GUIOPERA 55 Days by John Reyer Afamasaga

GUIOPERA 55 Days NOV-DEC 2013

CHAPTER: ZERO | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22 | INTERLUDE | 23 | POLINA RADA | DAY 54 | The PENULTIMATE CAPER | XMAS

The Story

“Love songs set the scene for John Lazoo and Genisis Jones in a love story that justifies deputised outlaws doing what their corrupt handlers won’t”

TAGLINE: [Imagine a true love story directed by Tarantino]

The World

55 Days is a love story about John Lazoo and Genisis Jones during a time which can only be described as challenging. Lazoo, who lives off his wits and Genisis, a graduate from a well to do family, would make a perfect couple based on their chemistry. But the odds of the pair finding each other and then making a go of it are against them, even before complications arise from Lazoo’s lifestyle threaten their limited chances of a future together.

55 Days has many sub plots, made up by an array of characters in a story that relies upon its method of delivery to set the scene rather than context. Some of the characters live above the line, in a double edged story, while others dwell well below the eye-line. Lazoo sees and feels the effects of their actions in a deep omniscient narrative that exposes its characters darkest fears and secrets.

Harry Clarenta a wealthy NYC businessman becomes obsessed with Lazoo. On Clarenta’s trail are the authorities and the Network, a secret sect that connects the Underworld and the New World Order, which a young Clarenta was a member of before the talented operative turned to the dark side.

Lazoo, who always fancied himself as a creative-type, now gets the chance to play director for Clarenta in a production with an unlimited budget.

55 Days is the period in 1997. It starts when Lazoo is tipped off by the Network lead by celebrated operative Metofeaz Litigatti, of the operation that started back in ’91. Its climatic ending Lazoo is entrusted to deliver unbeknown to him. Litigatti and the Network’s faith in the ex-con is unsubstantiated, and a risk that could bring down all the wrong people.

Lazoo’s integrity, a conman’s Achilles' heel, is called upon. His production in which he has cast Genisis has become a feature in New York. The reality based drama/performance art which takes place on the streets, frequently stopping traffic when flash mobs flood street corners to be part of his sometimes moving and at other times outrageous scenes start making the news and going viral on the internet.

When Clarenta the executive producer of Lazoo’s creation senses that something is awry, things start to go wrong for Lazoo.

The Characters

John Lazoo: A hustler with a heart of gold. Lazoo lives off his good looks and magnetism that draws people to him. The freewheeling confidence man finds himself at a crossroads when he meets Genisis Jones at the same time he becomes entangled in a covert operation by Network operatives.

Genisis Jones: A graduate from upstate New York enjoying the spring break in Central Park, Genisis is dragged into a world she’s only ever researched and studied the profiles of its characters.

Harry Clarenta: Flamboyant New York underworld figure with a weakness for hard bodied young men comes across Lazoo. Clarenta’s obsession with Lazoo creates a counter plot that drives the love story in different directions.

Metofeaz Litigatti: Former sniper and ex Special Forces soldier who doesn’t mind the life of a Network operative. At times the setting can be opulent, overflowing with excess, but for most of the time, it’s a lonely existence in uncomfortable surroundings. As a leader of the Network’s underbelly his ethics are called upon in a lawless habitat.

Tone Horroh: It’s a well-known that criminals and corrupt posers from above the line would rather chance their arm with the law and justice system than become the target of a Network operative. Tone Horroh is the type of operative responsible for such lore.

Jon Le Mac: When the Network decided to recruit Tone Horroh, they needed someone who could keep Horroh under control. Le Mac, who grew up with Tone is that person.

Hannibal Ammer: The Network, a vast organisation that spans organised crime and the corridors of power, like any other complex eco-system has a food chain that it relies upon for order. Ammer, a would-be leader despises the Network’s lowlifes he’s responsible for, the likes of Horroh and now maybe Lazoo.

The Pacifican: Every espionage story has a phantom character, the Pacifican who some say is the Poet Soldier, or the Network’s Mastermind is such.

Sharon Smith: A confirmed psychic, which is a common attribute for recruits from outside the government agencies. Smith code named the Tourist has been with the Network since the age of sixteen like Metofeaz and many of the Network’s operatives.


CHAPTER ZERO

PART 1

Lazoo swallows bile. His uneasy feeling about the homeless man who claimed he could get him a sit down meeting with Jerry Bruckheimer had materialised…Feeaz Fontain a former Madison Avenue Ad man who had lost it all, even dialled up Bruckheimer’s number for Lazoo to hear the Blockbuster producer’s voice message himself.

Hours later after a bottle of Tequila, the homeless man, who is really a Network operative, the worst kind of lawman—they’re deputised to do what they do, outside of the law—is standing inside the place he wants shut down. And Lazoo had brought him here. The news Lazoo’s been told, a bombshell when things were looking on the up and up for Lazoo. Metofeaz Litigatti whose smile belies the seriousness of who he is and what he represents is merely the messenger, his nerve racking message is the cause of discomfort for the normally cool, calm and collected Lazoo.

John Lazoo, a confidence man doesn’t seem so confident right now. Down by his side, he holds his mobile phone that starts to ring. He holds it out in front of him and the name of the caller is “Genisis.”

“Take the call, then I’ll tell you what I want you to do,” Litigatti, a former Special Forces soldier has no problem with telling someone what to do. The guy Litigatti confronts wishes the information being relayed to him for his own good were part of the production he’s the director of, and not of a transcript in an operation by the Network, sanctioned by both the underworld and law enforcement.

“Nothing’s wrong….” Lazoo says into the phone. His voice echoes in the expansive auditorium, the coliseum in the centre of place they call the Compound, Clarenta’s fortress a lavish Manhattan mansion.

Litigatti in his garb, layers of greasy clothing, rotting threads, the smell of which he’s become accustomed to, feels for the impeccably dressed Lazoo. The likeable rogue arrived in New York six years ago. It was around the time the operation which Lazoo has become the fly in the ointment began.

Lazoo born James Elton, here in New York, had come up on the Network’s radar a number of times over the years. It was mainly for his personal services to some of New York’s elite. Nothing serious. If it had been, the Network would have approached Lazoo with an offer of employment to do what he does for them. Otherwise, a permanent vacation would be suggested to an opportunist who upsets the delicate balance in a world already skewed.

PART 2

Genisis Jones frolics, dismissing any doubt she has about John Lazoo. On the Sound System is Michael Bublé and Ms Nelly Furtado singing “Quando, quando, qunado” The glorious afternoon, made of autumn colours and a fresh breeze envelope the feelings she’s amassed for the man whose shirt she wears as she dances carefree behind the flimsy curtain between her the balcony at his place.

Genisis steps out onto the balcony where Lazoo first spotted her down in Central Park on a summer’s day 5 months ago. The view of somewhere she’s visited numerous times is panoramic even if she is biased. The idea that he spotted her from this far, could mean that he was looking for someone, anyone and not her in particular… Genisis decides to stick with Lazoo’s version of how they met and the events that led up to it which fascinates Ms Jones on various levels.

Thoughts of their first date in Harlem on that magical Friday night, the music that surrounds Genisis and her nakedness but for his shirt that smells of him, which she inhales deep when she wraps her arms around herself in an embrace that hides her face, overwhelm her. The strong feelings that cannot be compared transpire in a flurry of emotion that soaks her soul with tears of joy.

The moment reaffirms what Genisis knows to be true based on lovers’ intuition. So compelling is the experience, the normally independent and confident woman feels the need to seek affirmation that the longing she feels all over her body is shared by the man responsible.

Genisis floats on a cloud of bliss that carries her back inside Lazoo’s apartment which he jokingly calls his “padded cell” or “white room” where she finds her phone. She thumbs through her address book looking for “John.”

PART 3

“Cut him down! Shut him up…” Tone Horroh shouts. The master of accents gets himself in a muddle. His voice escalates into a frightening shrill, which sounds more like the squeal of a pig or the victim and not someone in his position of power. His arms and chest muscles tainted in blood contract at the slightest of movements, making him appear nervy rather than commanding. The shadows that drape the walls and floors of the forgotten factory and maybe even darkness that maligns Tone’s mind, frame any shred of light as threatening.

Silently and diligently, not to upset Tone, the help, two soldiers from Chinatown dressed and hooded in disposable overalls, lower the body, battered beyond recognition but still seeping painful moans in a chain sling. The aluminium baseball bat Tone holds in one hand is bloodied red with the child molester’s blood.

“Time to acid bath the son ov a biatch!” Panting like a dog, Tone declares as the effects of the adrenalin in him subsides. The smile that’s returned when he sees a thick pool of blood on the ground, a picture of the pleasure Horroh gets from inflicting his brand of pain known as “Mor-beed Mayhem!” Tone seethes as he regains his breath.

In the corner of the derelict warehouse, a smart and sophisticated Jon Le Mac sits on a fold up chair reading the paper. He casts a discerning glance with raised eyebrow at what’s happening in the centre of the room, and then Le Mac goes back to reading the news. It’s not that Le Mac raised in Compton CA condones Horroh’s antics it’s just that Le Mac accepts his friend and the way Tone is, having been around Tone since the age of 5.

Back in the middle, as the wasted body’s feet touch the perfect glistening pool of blood on the ground, Horroh, who stands a couple of metres from the two helpers and the body jumps. He unleashes a precision round house kick that on contact sends the body still attached to the chain under the armpits and the two soldiers flying.

Le Mac lowers the newspaper to see what the fuss is about.

“THIS IS ART!” Tone yells, and then he lowers his voice to almost a whisper, “You spoiled the perfect picture…a reflection in his own blood!” Tone a perfectionist, like all of them is clearly annoyed. His rant is what Le Mac classes as level 2, which is when Tone is with us and he is annoyed. Very different from a level 1 when he’s in a feeding frenzy, like moments before when for five minutes he pulverised the body of a paedophile with his favourite baseball bat. The name and address of the lowlife Tone’s prize awarded to him by Hannibal Ammer for a job well done.

The help quickly find their feet, their eyes on Tone and the bat. Tone drops the bat, it bounces. The clanging sound that resonates in the empty space is deafening. The harshness of the noise is offset by the body hanging on chains that creak from the weight of the body as it swings back and forth in a myriad of uncertainty of what the unpredictable Tone will do next. The near death body contorts, its feet and legs drag through the blood, each time leaving strokes in the blood like a painters brush. The effect fascinates Tone for a while, long enough for the two Chinese men to regain composure.

“Listen to the weight of a condemned soul… now it’s time to relieve it of its burden, truly cleansing it of its sad and woeful decrepit-ness…” Standing in his white wife-beater vest, suit pants and polished shoes splattered in blood, Horroh’s state of mind is clearly evident for the help, something which they will hopefully talk about around the campfire.

Tone points at the gleaming white porcelain bath to the right of the Chinese men. In front of the tub Tone shopped for, for over a week, looking for the right sized vessel that would fit the body of the deviant, are 2 containers of sulphuric acid.

In the corner, the article about John Lazoo, who Litigatti was in the process of checking out catches Le Mac’s eye. This one, another piece on the street theatre production bankrolled by Clarenta a former colleague of Metofeaz and the Pacifican. The power had gone to Clarenta a talented rent boy’s head. On a mission to infiltrate an arms dealing operation in the late ‘80s, Harry posing as a fancier double crossed the Network when he set himself up in business with the very people he was sent to bring down. The delicate nature of the situation in which Clarenta was a double agent had to be carefully dismantled before Clarenta could be dealt with.

“Yo homes, your boy Lazoo’s in the papers again,”

Tone, with his back faced to Le Mac, out of respect is a proud man when he’s not in this state, which he has medication for. Horroh stops what he was about to do next. His shoulders drop as they relax on purpose, the mere mention of Lazoo seems to have that effect on Horroh, something Le Mac has noted….

CHAPTER ONE

PART 1

“Okay, we can work this thing to our advantage…” Lazoo recoils his forthright stance. His voice echoes throughout the auditorium making him sound weak and lethargic, and his suggestion worthless.

Clarenta, a dead ringer for the suave Alejandro Sosa boss of bosses from Scarface—the only reference Lazoo who’s had the odd run in with foot soldiers and associates of organised crime—has to call upon. Clarenta a homosexual man who gives off no signs of his preference, probably choosing to mimic the behaviours of the ones he really wants has that puzzled look on his face brought on by the utter incompetence of others.

“You brought him here! And there is no “Our.” This mess with Metofeaz and his friends is a longstanding feud. You arrived just five minutes ago…” Clarenta’s measured sounding account masks his fury.

In the corner of the auditorium, Ali in character, Cleopatra, complete with gold plated breast plate and not much more to speak of looks the other way. In toga, close to a hundred young men, some well into their thirties who have been here for years and pass by performing the lewd acts Clarenta demands of them, line the three balconies that look down on Lazoo, centre stage.

Lazoo dressed in a cream Calvin Klein suit, he chose for a lunch date with Genisis which he has to get out of this place for by 12, checks his watch. The Rolex submariner tells him that it’s day 1 of a “mission,” not a preferred term for someone in Lazoo’s line of work but a fact of life now for Lazoo, which Litigatti the Network operative had drummed into Lazoo. The footage of what went down, on the very spot Lazoo stands which was caught on camera plays in the background.

“What do we do with someone who does not appreciate the opportunity handed to them on a silver platter?”

Clarenta’s voice does not need amplification. Maybe it’s because the audience that line the walls of the coliseum have seen it before? And they know the answer to the question. Lazoo, in an envious role as far as his judges are concerned, doesn’t hold out any hope for a favourable response.

The jeering doesn’t surprise Lazoo. The thumbs down he receives from all quarters was expected.

Ali, whom Lazoo recruited into this decadence, smiles her condolences in a sideward grimace. A waitress, Ali was the first person Lazoo met when he stepped of the Greyhound that brought him to the Big Apple from the side of the road near Dodge Correctional Institute where he served time for robbery. Lazoo is thankful for her support, a small token gesture it maybe, but it was support nonetheless. Clarenta, a socialite with many influential friends his wealth afforded him, was lavish when it came to showing his affection, but careful when dealing with those who he believes have or will betray him, Litigatti had made it very clear. “As unforgiving as the Cosa Nostra and as vexing as the Russkaya Mafiya…” Clarenta’s reputation for exacting his justice was as harrowing. Rumour had it Clarenta paid Network operative Tone Horroh to implement his Morbid Mayhem the most brutal brand of punishment money can buy on those who betrayed him….

PART 2

Genisis, lost in the dream that continues has that look in her eyes…it’s as deep as an ocean, you can drown in. The glow that radiates from a woman who is truly content is infectious. Famous faces check her out, as she waits for Lazoo at a sidewalk table of the Madison Ave bistro. The crowd that begins to gather on the four corners that border the bistro for the pending scene Lazoo distributed via Yahoo and MSN chatrooms last night are already fans of the Maestro’s love interest. Charlize Theron and Stuart Townsend exit a cab. Genisis, a fan gushes. The star smiles as she tugs at Stuart who has to do a double take. The flash mob at the circumference, a ring that marks the stage are ready to demob reality. The only thing missing now is the Maestro, or the ringmaster of the circus that has taken the streets of New York by storm.

Genisis checks the time. 1:30pm, and still no sign of Lazoo the most punctual man she’s ever known. The starry eyed woman, who is satisfied with her life which Lazoo’s escapade has engulfed in a startling notion that love is real and not a matter of dependency brought on by chemistry, has too much to look forward to when he finally arrives to fret about his whereabouts. How he will make his entrance? Is of interest, not only to Genisis, but also the mob that now completely fill the pavement at the “T” intersection, with Ms Jones at its crest.

Lazoo, a complex character who has Genisis as captivated as she is intrigued, is the prototype for a bad boy, whose excuse for how he ended up in jail, which he had managed to convince Genisis was a result of not having a father figure in his life. An honours student who had gained her degree from studying text books and not from having been there, Lazoo’s excuse was straight out of one of Genisis’textbooks.

The mob is ready for rumbling the proceeds Lazoo’s entrance, the thundering reverberates. Goosebumps raise hairs on Genisis’ arms, which she equates to intimate times. It’s not that Genisis wasn’t looking forward to what Lazoo had planned for the fans. She was lost in the selfish hypnosis of their fledgling romance.

PART 3

R&B circulates in the air, the glints from the polished product propagated by Ne-Yo in “Champagne Life” reflects off Rolexes and the Lamborghini Diablo that passes by which Linda Evangelista hangs out of. Her driver waves… Metofeaz, Le Mac and Tone Horroh step down Madison Ave. Gone, are the pungent and tattered threads Litigatti donned for the cause. They’re replaced by the sleek lines of an Armani suit that comfort his broad shoulders. Litigatti’s million dollar smile shines, “Evangelista, dang!” He waves his hand, the fanning motion blurs in pictures being snapped by Tait Stevensen a private dick in his office, a menacing black mobile surveillance unit parked across the street which Horroh sneers at.

The blood that will forever stain Horroh’s skin is covered over by the sheen of his tailored suit. Le Mac listens and looks for signs in Tone’s behaviour. They’re on their way to a “scene” by Lazoo to check out first-hand what the fuss was all about. Many of these street performers were worth the price of admission, on the street. But to play the Coliseum at the Compound, was a totally different story. And it fascinated Le Mac, while it bothered Metofeaz that a civilian had walked straight into the inner sanctum of Clarenta’s world.

As the three Network operatives, who were brought together by counter measures from opposing forces in the Network, which Hannibal Ammer was the architect, Le Mac is curious about what Tone’s reaction will be. The intersection is already overrun with willing participants in Lazoo’s show.

“Son of a biatch’s got the crowds. What next? A presidential ticket?” Horroh’s bemusement with Lazoo and the turnout is obvious. His accent is Latin, for now. Le Mac waits for Horroh’s next words. Tone’s personas that interchange more frequent that a slideshow, range from Pacino as Tony Montana to spats of an outback Australian in a cork hat.
“It’s uncustomary for his kind to be late,” Metofeaz, with one eye still on the Diablo that pulls up outside the Bistro sounds concerned as another version of events following their meeting inside the Compound crosses Metofeaz’s mind. “Maybe it’s gone to his head?” Le Mac plays devil’s advocate.

“Tait in the house, did you go through Clarenta’s knicker draw?” Le Mac makes mention of Clarenta’s private investigator, a bent cop turned PI parked back down the street as Le Mac looks for Lazoo. The three of them were still on alert for the fallout from what Metofeaz did when he got Lazoo to take him inside the Compound.

“Takes one to know one, cons are easily led by other con artists. We all know that…” Horroh smarts in his almost perfect English cockney accent, giving Le Mac an insight to what Tone’s real thoughts on Lazoo might be.

Le Mac spots the stretched Hummer as it turns onto Madison Ave before the bass bins inside stir the sewers beneath the street.

Inside the bulletproof limo, which Clarenta had three made within a week for Lazoo’s production, Lazoo looks out the tinted window. He can see the response to his work, people queued to be a part of his latest scene. It would be a kick if he was doing this for any other reason than his career. After over half a decade of relentless hustling, Lazoo was adamant that he was going to go legit. During his first five years in New York he had unwittingly attracted Clarenta’s attention but had managed to wriggle his way out of having to deal with Clarenta. In the last year, Lazoo’s need to kick-start his new life led him straight to the place he had been trying to avoid. Meeting Genisis felt like it was a confirmation that he was on the right track.

“People need something to aspire to. They also need to know that the standard is high,” Clarenta seated across from Lazoo on a leather couch that spans one side of the Hummer almost sounds apologetic. Lazoo decides that he’s already in character for the scene at hand but is still careful of what his response will be.

“Now you have someone who they believe they can get to,” Lazoo says knowing fully well what he just nominated himself for in a game Lazoo pondered once or twice getting into. But ratting someone out wasn’t something a player like Lazoo believed in, for fear of the same happening in return. For Lazoo, it was all about creating a demand and then servicing it, by any means available to him. He did not prey on the unsuspecting. Rather, Lazoo chose to push the boundaries of what’s deemed acceptable by a hypocritical society. Lazoo’s sense of karma lay somewhere in between an eye for eye and turning the other cheek if somewhere down the line, you’re certain there’ll be a sweet kiss for a misguided slap in the face, once all had been revealed. His naivety was his charm. His guts and determination got him into enviable positions. The combination which some would say was his luck, and now he had to capitalise on that hard earned “luck.”

CHAPTER TWO

PART 1

Lazoo opens the door of the limo. Sunlight, warm and forgiving breaks the bleakness that shreds dreams of what was meant to be his ticket out of his basement existence. A fact that not many consider when it comes to the likes of Lazoo who rely on adrenaline and super powers they summons in moments of desperation is that the lows they encounter when a plan falls flat on its back are a deep abyss. Their crestfallen state is dark and deep. A condition they seldom admit, to themselves let alone someone else for fear of it staining their treasured self-assurance.

The smile lines that accentuate his most prized weapon, frame a front for the mob, gathered and ready to adorn their gift as the chosen ones.

Lazoo finds his feet on the street in the naïve sunshine. He has already laid eyes on Genisis, who waits for him. The sight of her, instantly dismisses any doubt that he still owns the greatest show on earth, which takes place on the streets of the Big Apple. The cavalier performer who lives to please lassoes the atmos for music to inhabit the spaces and an orchestral exclamation that Lazoo was born for a bigger purpose, the woman he met in Central Park has something to do with his calling.

Resonant strings of an acoustic guitar plucked with care infiltrate the once heady vibe of anticipation, calming the crowd, sending them into some sort of trance.

“Tell when / will you be mine…” The lyric abound with love overwhelms bated breath with promise of something omniscient and rich.

The song by Michael Bubble aids the endeavours of an opportunist, who by virtue is a lousy confidence man. A conscience he could do without is Lazoo’s weakness. He had the skill and the intelligence. He even possessed the cold blood running through his veins, but it was the residue of his acts that linger like an odorous reminder, prompted by his mother’s words that haunt him in times like these and comfort him when he is pacific.

Lazoo shrugs his shoulders, before he inhales the atmos from seeing Genisis and hearing the music that surrounds them. The concoction made of deafening affection and a single mindedness lifts his soul as he focuses on the woman he fought habit and mortal coil to meet and keep, an aspiration his double life makes difficult. He can see her through the other side of the limo when the open door lightens the tinted window. The triangle created by the three Hummers begins to fill with followers to sound of the song playing on external speakers in the pillars of the custom made Hummers.

Thoughts of Metofeaz and Horroh on his case, Clarenta deciding that he wasn’t worth the trouble and paying Horroh to tidy up the mess are wiped away as Lazoo stretches his neck muscles left and then right. After nearly six months, the vision of Genisis is still enough to dull the prospect of any pain he has to endure to be with her….

PART 2

Lost in a dream in which time has no say, Genisis sits up and looks around. She remembers where she is as across the street, a black stretched Hummer pulls up diagonally in the middle of the street blocking eastbound traffic. Moments later, from her right, another one, a replica of the first Hummer drives down the middle of the street and then it veers left before it swerves to the right and then it comes to a halt on an angle so it’s grill almost touches the first limo’s, blocking traffic from the north and from the east. When a third Hummer slides into place completing a triangle, Genisis’ curiosity is peaked much like the fans that step down onto the street off the sidewalk.

Music that makes a woman feel amazing, melting her heart on hearing it, even if it’s in joyous celebration of imagined love that someone else has found begins. Like a ribbon, its seamless lifespan, too hard to bother with when it began, Genisis indulges in the moment when she recognises and accepts that it’s about her. For someone so stable, assured by her upbringing, Genisis takes a few seconds to adjust to the idea. It quickly dawns on her that there is a certain amount of work involved in being Lazoo’s woman, a thought that quickly evaporates into the stratosphere he’s created effortlessly.

The gush of emotions Genisis is oblivious to as eyes feast on the interplay so real—its reason a secret recipe concocted when two people meet and everything coincides—envelopes Genisis and the street she rises on to meet the man she barely knows. Observers quickly become beholders of the unbridled truth in the couple’s movements as she holds a hand out for Lazoo who makes his way around the back of the hummer to take.

Genisis hears through the lustre of admiration, and the completeness of the moment blessed by sun rays words to the duet sung by Nelly Furtado.

“I can't wait a moment more / Tell me, quando, quando, quando…”

PART 3

Metofeaz a student of Jon Pierre Solomon, the last Poet Soldier anointed by the Network, watches on from a distance. Horroh and Le Mac stepped into a shop, leaving Litigatti to apply what JPS taught him,

“Hearts and minds are all that matter. If you are able to portray the idea of what love is, people will respond…”

Jon Pierre openly romanticised the clandestine trade, a treacherous vocation. So much that he wrote poems and short stories for the operatives, cloaking plans for a mission in mystique and romance, which inspired normal people to perform acts of heroism for the cause. In keeping with JPS’ methodology, Metofeaz senses something about Lazoo who steps out onto the street from the Hummer.

Metofeaz looks across to where he sees the look on Genisis’ face when Lazoo who in the last 24 hours had been told that he had been caught in action as part of an operation to bring Hariss Clariss down, appears from inside the black Hummer.

“He’ll carve up nicely. The prettier, the more tender the meat….”

Metofeaz dismisses Horroh’s comment from behind him about Lazoo as Tone hands him an ice-cream cone. Metofeaz turns and looks at the imposter he has to work with standing next to him. “Your assumption is based on Clariss coming to you. It doesn’t consider Lazoo helping us out.”

Metofeaz’s research on Lazoo had told him that Lazoo would be suited to their line of work.

Metofeaz, guilty by association, was adopted by Jon Pierre Solomon a true confidence man whom the Network recruited, had served his time in the armed forces and if it weren’t for his relationship with JPS, Litigatti would be a sworn agent. His links by birth, having a biological parent who was foot soldier for the Mafia made him a natural fit in the underbelly of espionage.

Le Mac who hangs in the background watching what’s going on, sums up the seemingly unworkable situation that Lazoo finds himself in. “He’s damned, if he does and he’s damned if he don’t.”

Le Mac’s sympathetic tone is so he can sleep at night, Metofeaz figures.

“What would the Pacifican do in his situation?” Metofeaz, annoyed at Horroh, asks what would the person Horroh was recruited to impersonate do if he was in Lazoo’s situation. The question was designed to rile Horroh, who usually responds with his form of silent treatment which resembles an infant who has been designated to a corner—their incoherence from a lack of knowledge and understanding of their behaviour.

“Suits me! Well and dandy-do-da-day. I’m the one getting paid the big bucks…” Tony Montana is back as Horroh pulls the lapels of his suit to smarten up his act. Both Metofeaz and Le Mac find it hard to conceal their amusement….

CHAPTER THREE

PART 1

“Sunday Morning” and Maroon 5 serenade hopeless romantics from all over the globe who have logged on to the internet portal…a cluster of chat rooms, forums and message boards which organically create a community on the world-wide-web. The music video that streams down line, like the sunlight that shimmers on surfaces it finds on a perfect Sunday morning—effervescently the sound gladdens and warms all that it touches.

“Check this out…” Lazoo, dyslexic, at best, moves the IBM ThinkPad on his lap to a position so Genisis who peers out from under covers can see the screen. The smile on Lazoo’s face is open without the squint he offers up as an afterthought when he’s unsure of himself. Events of the night before expended any pent up frustrations from the preceding couple of days during which Lazoo thought his new life had come to an abrupt end. The level headed pragmatic operator, under all the pizazz he’s capable of producing promised himself that today would be about Genisis, which he suddenly remembers and then he snatches the machine out from in front of her.

“Aw, but I like that song,” Genisis says, not too disappointed that he’s decided to put his work away.

“Song stays on then,” Lazoo smiles as he keeps his eyes on Genisis as he twists his torso, accentuating a well-tuned physique for Genisis to see as he places the machine on the bedside cabinet.

“Fifty-Four days till Christmas,” Lazoo who has been wondering about the longevity of the most amazing experience he’s ever had when he met Genisis feels like he just popped the question. He thought that he would casually put it out there to find out what she’ll be doing for Christmas, a time when loved ones should have each other, which would give him an idea of how serious she was about them.

He can feel the warmth of the emotion that stirs inside him every time he does what his heart tells him to do, and not what’s best for Lazoo.

“Is that a statement? Or, is it a query with whirly bits attached?” Genisis shuts her eyes and pulls the duvet up under her chin. Confident that the response will be the right answer and it will heed a woman’s want to be needed, chased, but not harassed in any way which may impede her experience of the moment….

PART 2

Tone closes one drawer and slowly opens the next. It’s the one that Lazoo would find most offensive if he found out that Horroh had been in there. The silk knickers that lay coiled and uncoiled in the scented compartment, some of them hard to believe that Genisis from her appearance would dare wear. Maybe they were gifted to her, by Lazoo, or some secret admirer? Tone uses the pen torch to hook one pair that he slowly lifts in the air and looks at with the look of a practitioner and then with his other hand in a latex glove he stretches the elastic to see if they had been worn? Horroh, whose sadistic ways undermine his credibility as an investigator is as insightful and thorough as the best of them. He places the pink pair back in the draw and swaps the torch for his recorder he retrieves his from his jacket pocket. Looking down on the assortment of coloured silk and cotton, Tone speaks concisely into the Dictaphone as if he were Sherlock Holmes “Genisis Jones has many fantasies…Like any other woman they are of erogenous colours that unveil the effects of unexplained lessons as an adolescent, or maybe even spankings on her ample buttocks way after the cider effects have worn off… and the event is dim notation on the highway of life…”

Tone steps backwards from the mahogany Victorian duchess dressing table as he continues speaking into the recorder. He looks straight through his image in the mirror as if he sees something beyond his reflection. The drawer left agape, a calling card to let the meticulous Ms Jones know that someone had been here, a message ultimately designed for Lazoo to receive.

Downstairs Le Mac reads the paper behind the steering wheel of the company car, a classic 1977 yellow Checker Cab, the perfect stake out vehicle. Lazoo’s theatrics from yesterday on Madison Avenue had made it to page 3 of the paper.

PART 3

Sharon twirls a lock of her golden hair, the way Metofeaz likes. She does it knowingly—to speed up the process during the limited time they have together.

Metofeaz feels as if he is a spent force when it comes to his personal relationships, especially intimate liaisons. The years spent negotiating and talking for the sake talking had taken the pleasure out of the art which he is a master of.

Sharon Smith AKA The Tourist, whom he first met when he decided to heed the call and don the cloak so to speak, knew Metofeaz the person well. Long spells apart had meant the couple had developed a true understanding of each other’s needs.

Sprawled out on the sofa of the hotel suite, Metofeaz takes the Glock in his holster and then he reaches above his head, looking to where he places the piece on the end table.

“Are you going to take that thing off?” Sharon asks about the not so concealed holster he wears over his black t-shirt.

“Haven’t you heard? It’s the latest in erotic wear…” Metofeaz’s drone is indicative of the pressure he’s under. His mind is elsewhere, even though he had been looking forward to having the woman he truly loves in his arms again.

“For God’s sakes, recruit him then!” Sharon snaps at him. Her tone reminds Metofeaz of where he is right this minute, and what he should be focused on.

“We already have Horroh, another misfit would tarnish the reputation of the crew and impact our earnings.” Metofeaz explains why he hasn’t yet endorsed the idea of deputising Lazoo.

“Tarnish? Reputation? Earnings in the name of a cause? All of that in the same sentence? Sheez…” Sharon pulls her hair back and uses the band on her wrist to tie her hair. Her stinging sarcasm, the truth about Metofeaz and his band of outlaws.

The ThinkPad on the table wakes from its sleep mode. The fretting that Metofeaz suffers from is agitated further by the machine’s modem that begins to screech as it connects to the internet. It reminds Litigatti of the other so-called bandits in his crew and their charter as a Semi-System or clique of the Network for the 21st Century as this one comes to a close. The Pacifican, based somewhere near Antarctica working for IBM and Page the Pirate now working as a contractor for Microsoft in Silicon Valley, supposedly the new Vegas of technology driving the dotcom boom.

“We’ll take it and make it our own. Just like the old-timers and the streets,” the Pacifican, an agent recruited around the same time as Metofeaz came to the Network’s attention at a young age had big ideas about the internet or the world-wide-web. “Let the geeks and propeller heads do their thing, and then we’ll give it, its heart. Use it to win minds and sure up the strategy for the new millennium…” The son of a preacher man believed he had a trick up his sleeve that no one had ever thought of or could conceive. “It’s just a matter of finding the right front man, someone who’s fearless and smart enough to twist any situation to their advantage...The guy has to be able to loop the here and now, folding reality so even the sanest of sane begins to question their sanity…” The articulate street fighter who could either talk his opponent into submission or swiftly put them out of their misery was a problem gambler, known for being able to swindle a table which he would always succumb to in the end. Even with his weakness, the Pacifican was the closest thing to a Mastermind or Jon Pierre the Poet Soldier, Metofeaz’s side of the Network had come across. And it scared Hannibal Ammer their handler, hence the instalment of Tone Horroh who went by the Pacifican’s real name in the US.

Music from somewhere in the cerebral cortex of the planet flows through the speakers hooked up to the laptop. It catches Sharon’s fancy, much to Metofeaz’s relief who was beginning to regret the idea that they rendezvous in New York in the autumn. Sharon had been assigned to a mission in France which had lasted for over a decade. Whenever possible, the powers that be would bring in Metofeaz under various guises so the couple could spend some time together. This time he requested that she come to him instead.

“Sunday morning rain is falling / Steal some covers, share some skin…”

Maroon 5 intercede. The seemingly arbitrary act has its place in a fate Metofeaz accepted a long time ago. The dull mood made of blunt and honest responses from pent up frustrations turns dulcet in a moment…Metofeaz imagines, that millions around the planet would be sharing the moment and how lucky he was to have the woman who together, he and her have inspired so much of what is going down, just as Jon Pierre Solomon would’ve wanted….

CHAPTER FOUR

PART 1

Monday morning and the streets of New York are alive. The R&B groove “Happy People” an altruistic offering by R. Kelly sets the tone to which coffee is ground and then served in cafés and sidewalk carts like the one Lazoo stands in line waiting for his caffeine fix. Benevolence is the feeling that prevails, in the air, upon a crisp current of optimism that revives the pulse of the people. None more so than Lazoo who considers ideas of goodwill and altruism, even if it’s as a matter of survival.

Buoyed by several developments that had come to fruition over the last twenty-four hours, Lazoo, manages a smile for the woman standing in front of him who recognises who he is. The tight lipped smile from the woman who probably works in an office is just how Lazoo prefers to be noticed. The real source of his smile though is from Genisis’ suggestion that they go home to meet her parents this Christmas.

Also, there’s an element of relief in the air when Clarenta announced that he had a special project for Lazoo, on top of the street show which City Hall had acknowledged in positive light with an endorsement from the Mayor’s office. For a moment, Metofeaz’s words about where the money Lazoo was playing with was coming from and what Lazoo was actually involved in—“Money Laundering”—hits Lazoo. But it’s brief, as Lazoo focuses on the idea that, Genisis was serious about him and her as a couple. Lazoo doesn’t exactly want to deal with the details of the new project right now. So he steps forward as the line shortens for him to be at the front of the queue. “Strong, strong coffee, triple…in fact! Quadruple the dosage and sweeten it with molasses…” Lazoo doesn’t disappoint the young woman that serves him, the office lady who looks over her shoulder as she wanders off and the merchant banker behind him reading the Wall Street Journal…

PART 2

To the music in the atmos, Genisis steps down 5th Avenue. Ms Jones sails through the morning ambience. Her aura is flowing and coveted by those who can’t help but stop and look at her. She floats carefree and on a cloud that will carry her through her day. On her digital Walkman, is the mix tape Lazoo made for her. The thought that she’s seeing the kind a guy who would take the time to make her a mix tape makes Genisis giggle to herself. It brings a homeless man, who talks to himself close to the friendly natured Ms Jones who has a smile for the harmless person with a nice smile. The homeless man’s smile suddenly turns to a simmering look that could escalate into anything as the man grabs Genisis by the arm. Flashes of what happens next pass through Genisis’ tranquil mind. None of them affect her or more to the point, Genisis was totally unprepared for being accosted by anyone in her harmonious state. Then he shoves a piece of paper, folded, no larger than a match book into her hand, and with that he walks off, leaving Genisis in a mild state of shock. She stands tip toe to see where he’s gone. Gone! Is the hunched over posture as the well-built man flees the scene, darting in between people who couldn’t care less on the crowded street, using the blazé horde’s preoccupation with themselves to camouflage himself.

Genisis feels the piece of paper the man pressed hard into the palm of her hand. She looks down and sees there’s something written on the folded piece of paper that begins to convex and then it finally falls to the ground.

PART 3

Metofeaz Litigatti, back in his homeless garb turns the company car down 52nd Street, the street made famous by Maestros like Miles Davis, Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie. He slows down as he nears 62 West 52nd Street, the building where Lazoo’s next project for Clarenta will take place, according to a couple of Lazoo’s cronies at SIL HOUSE Café in Tribeca a place where Lazoo can be found when he’s not with Genisis or he’s at work. Metofeaz wonders about the project and its nature, a brothel. He doesn’t consider the moral aspect of the pending operation for someone like Clarenta, but the ramifications of such an idea for Lazoo and Genisis and what a straight laced person like Ms Jones would think of the concept? From experience of having worked with Clarenta, if Lazoo had played his cards right, he would be close to being a millionaire already with all the gifts and bonuses Clarenta has for someone who shows potential to go on and be an earner with distinction. And what were the chances if Lazoo was made the right offer, he would ditch what Clarenta had to offer? It takes a special type to turn their back on the allure of riches, for a life in which if you’re lucky when it’s all said and done, if you’re able to look back and say you made a difference…Metofeaz Litigatti the optimist, the idealist and the pessimist from knowing who and what he fights against is positive when it comes to Lazoo. He turns up the stereo with R. Kelly on it and drives towards upper Manhattan.

CHAPTER FIVE

PART 1

Lazoo looks down to his left at the gap between his director’s hair and Harry Clarenta’s. “Blurred Lines” assumedly wholly composed by Robin Thicke and produced by Maestro Pharrell Williams featuring T.I rocks the auditorium as candidates for Lazoo’s next project—MMESOL—anagram for “Manhattan’s Most Exclusive Salon Of Love,” parade past Lazoo. Lithe ones, voluptuous ones, ones with work done and then there is one or two who could do with a makeover or a complete takeover under divinity’s scalpel. Of the fifty beautiful creatures that have made it to the final stage of the cattle call, all of them will in the dim shade of Lazoo’s brazen new Loveland be more than capable of turning a trick or three under the guidance of Lazoo.

Nothing more had been said about Metofeaz’s invasion of the Compound since the Kangaroo court a week ago. However another dilemma had begun to fester on Lazoo’s conscience, the moral one he had decided to let slide till he had to face up to it, which Lazoo thought would be further down the line. He hadn’t seen Genisis since early in the week, it was out of respect more than anything after the nature of the new project began bothering Lazoo, now that he had experienced what Genisis had to offer him. But as always the consummate planner had an idea or two on how he would make it all fly…a whorehouse whichever way you chose to look at it. The play on the streets of the Big Apple. And how he was going to walk away from it all in the end with Genisis on his arm and enough money to set himself up for life, even with feds and the CIA, AND the Network looking to take down Clarenta whom without, Lazoo would still be turning tricks for lonely rich women and impotent rich men with lovely young wives. In the corners of his mind, Lazoo contemplates an alternative outcome, not so brilliant, one in which Tone Horroh features heavily and Lazoo has to call upon a part of him which he doesn’t like to have to think about…Clarenta’s heavy paw laden with jewels flops onto Lazoo’s leg, it awakens James Elton a bone fide hit man during his time behind bars, from the nightmares of what he had carried out as a necessity when the pretty boy found himself inside. He did hits for all the gangs, firstly for the Aryan Brotherhood who looked after him as a youngster, followed by work for Afro American, and the Latin gangs when the leader of the Aryan Brotherhood ordered a hit on James. James Elton from Wisconsin ended up working for the Mafia, acting on orders from the outside—all of this, a little known fact about John James Lazoo the confidence man….

PART 2

Genisis checks her phone again, in hope that there would be a message from Lazoo. She indulges her Marvin Gaye habit at the end of the week in her Greenwich Village apartment. “Got To Give It Up,” the disco track by the Prince of Motown and a glass of wine takes the edge off a hectic week, in which she hasn’t seen or heard from Lazoo for a couple of days. The note from the homeless man pinned to the cork board, still folded to conceal the message she looked at once and then she decided not think about what the note meant. She starts touching the bruise on her arm from where the homeless man grabbed her. It was brown and fading. She reaches for the tube of Aloe Vera on the kitchen bench and squeezes lotion from it which she rubs into her skin. The cold cream soothes her skin and when it begins to warm and then thin it aids Genisis’ smile who has a mischievous streak she keeps well hidden. The naughty glint in her eyes is from a couple of unexplained incidents over the past week, which she assigned Lazoo blame for. The happenings entwine like foreign but complementary strands in Lazoo’s rope that he has her tied up in a helpless state if she were adverse to the wonders of his entrapment that has snared both her heart and mind. The first of them was when Lazoo, she assumes had gone into the drawer of her duchess and taken lingerie bottoms. And the second was the note obviously sent by Lazoo via the homeless man, a possible explanation Genisis has when she’s able to tie the message to a passing comment Lazoo made the last time they saw each other which was at lunch on Tuesday.

Genisis had become accustomed to his special way with words, and smiled instead of laughing at how he strung them together. His presence when they were alone was replaced by a naivety, which Genisis was still not sure if it was an act or not? Whatever the case, he was hilarious. He spoke in elongated contexts which gave the “creative” license to stretch whatever topic to include tangents he would go of on and somehow miraculously come home to seal a deal so salient, that it would satisfy the educated Ms Jones. His explanation for what he does for a living, an on-going saga for the last six months took another turn this week. His latest answer for what he does was a spin on what he told her on their first date, “I delve deep into human difficulty, immerse myself in their suffering, and come back-to-back to tell the world the way I cut tracks, paths, and present linear perceptions to amalgamation. I have to go to the bathroom now …” His deadpan delivery was obviously for effect, the way he ended it and then he stood up and left the table to go to the bathroom without waiting for her response, whether it was an honest reaction to being probed by Genisis about what he does when she’s not with him, or it was a device of his, had achieved what he could only wish for. On a Friday afternoon, deep within the skirts of Greenwich Village, Genisis’ smile stretches her blemish-less skin till her eyes cannot contain consequence when she thinks about Lazoo and his ways. Her laughter flits out the window, the envious ripple can be felt by those on the verge of happiness….

PART 3

Metofeaz spots the sedan parked across the street, half a dozen cars down with two men trying to look inconspicuous inside, before Hannibal Ammer passes by outside of the window from the opposite direction. Metofeaz had made sure he picked the window table right under the arced logo of SIL HOUSE Café as meeting place with Ammer, who Metofeaz has little respect for. Ammer, a washed up member of the Military Police, the highest he rose in the army and whose CV shows bouts as an insurance investigator with no solid excuse, has that look about him. His only asset as far as those Ammer worked for were concerned was Ammer’s dishonour, which is why he was chosen to be the one responsible for the likes of Metofeaz, Le Mac and Horroh.

It was a rare occasion when Ammer would request to meet with Metofeaz. Rather, Ammer chose to communicate via Tone, a lower ranking operative, something Metofeaz had gotten used to. But it still angered Metofeaz. Abroad, Ammer was more forthcoming but at home where he had more power to wield, Ammer used every bit of it to antagonise Metofeaz.

Behind the counter Simon Campbell, a retired Analyst who now runs SIL HOUSE Café the meeting place and somewhat a safe house for those who see themselves as associates of the Network reaches beneath the counter and pulls out two leather folders, identical to the ones on the counter but with a different menu inside.

Campbell a patriot, born in Canada bought the building when he retired and opened the café in the creative district of Tribeca as a hangout for his pals. Six years ago, Clarenta one of Campbell’s pals made him an offer he couldn’t refuse for the building. Clarenta offered Campbell five times the value of the building to sign over the deed on the spot. It was one of Clarenta’s plays for Lazoo who was present at the time, in the place where creative types and entrepreneurs liked to hang, imagining they were rubbing shoulders with the famous and the infamous.

As the door closes behind Ammer, the waitress, a graduate from the academy arrives at the edge of the table with the menus. Her smile is a timely intervention for Metofeaz as Ammer passes by behind the leggy redhead, “let me know when you’re ready to order Mr Fontain.”

Metofeaz lets Campbell, still the proprietor, for business sakes, know that he’s okay and nothing will happen within the walls of his fine establishment when Metofeaz lassoes the atmos. The twirling of his finger in the air, a signal by Network operatives that everything was copacetic. Campbell who first met Metofeaz back in the 80’s when Litigatti was assigned to smooth out relationships between organised crime and the entertainment industry around the time the corporates consolidated their interests in the music and film industry thought of Metofeaz as an equal and not some thug from the underworld.

Metofeaz flashes the smile that earned him his place in the ranks of the Network for a young starry eyed idealist standing at the end of the table, as Ammer slides into the seat opposite.

Behind the counter, Campbell presses the play button on the CD player for background music to the transcript that ensues. It broadens Litigatti’s smile as he forgets about who he sits across from for no good reason:

HANNIBAL AMMER: It’s good to see that you haven’t totally given up on the medication…

METOFEAZ LITIGATTI: Half measures never served a purpose…

HANNIBAL AMMER: This music, it’s for the jungle where only the monkeys can enjoy it, don’t you think? No, wait. You actually listen to this rubbish, don’t you?

METOFEAZ LITIGATTI: So what do I owe the pleasure of your company?

HANNIBAL AMMER: Someone who shares your appreciation this deplorable excuse for music.

METOFEAZ LITIGATTI: So? The anticipation is exhilarating….

HANNIBAL AMMER: James Elton!

METOFEAZ LITIGATTI: Never heard of him. Wouldn’t know him from a bar of soap.

HANNIBAL AMMER: Very nice. Let me remind you. You’re on a slippery slope my friend, and I use that term of endearment with earnestness reserved for the scum I have to deal with. If you think you can recruit someone yourself, you’re actually kidding the universe and all its laws. And let me make this clear! Lazoo, whether he’s real or a figment of the Pacifican’s imagination, will be treated accordingly…And that’s on your head. My friend….

CHAPTER SIX

WARNING: R18 – Contains Adult Content

PART 1

“That’s life…” A look-alike who fronts a thirty piece orchestra, complete with backing singers to boot does Ol’ Blue Eyes proud as he entertains the guests at what Clarenta said would be a “little tea party in the garden”. Lazoo looks out over the manifestation of Clarenta’s power, and he begins to fantasise as he salivates about who will play what role in Lazoo’s revamped production. Gene the Shark, a criminal lawyer, in every sense of the term talks with Jack Shack an up and comer in the DA’s office. The two go way back. Seeing them together at a Clarenta do only serves to stir the pot full of rumours, even when one deducts what’s impossible it still leaves a thickened stew of muck that can turn one’s stomach.

“Are you okay?” Genisis’ voice catches Lazoo off guard. He says nothing as he looks at the mark on her arm, which he’s too scared to ask her how it happened in case it angers him? Maybe it was nothing and it was just a knock from a high powered session with her personal trainer? The finger marks though, from where someone had grabbed her, faint as they maybe were there.

“I’m good, fine, I’m good,” Lazoo tells himself. An empathetic Genisis sensing that he isn’t takes his arm and wraps it around her and then she places her head on his shoulder. Lazoo feels the warmth of her body against his and it instantly erases doubt, about his ability to turn this cesspool into an opera which he will direct every last scene right down to the final bow and curtain call….

PART 2

Genisis dims the lights in Lazoo’s apartment. In the corner, seated at end of the sofa closest to the open Arcadia doors, is Lazoo. The moonlight casts a tell-tale shadow down one side of the sullen man, she can’t quite seem to get in touch with right now. It illustrates for Genisis that there’s two sides to the man she had fallen for.

Genisis drew her own conclusion for Lazoo’s brooding which had begun at the tea party and carried on all evening. He had spoken to her once in the space of five hours, and that was at the party when he tried assuring Genisis that nothing was wrong. Something must’ve happened during the week between him and Harry Clarenta, Lazoo’s investor for what Lazoo now called the “GAME”. Being in Harry’s company this afternoon had brought on some sort of deep-seated response of resentment to whatever happened from Lazoo.

As far as Genisis was concerned the honeymoon phase of their relationship was still on. She could excuse his behaviour as work related, or fatigue. But honestly she’d rather as a couple they had that first spat than go through this.

“That’s life,” Lazoo finally says something. It comes as a relief for Genisis. The sound of his voice is forced. Lilted with disappointment as it may, it was still some form of communication and acknowledgment, that at the very least she was there, and that she was someone that meant something to him.

Genisis takes it as her cue to comfort him. Walking towards him she feels truly vulnerable for the first time in their relationship—not sure what to do with her hands she wants to touch him with, and unsure whether she say should say something or not. The mixed feelings blend in a miscellany of emotion and pent up energy, she can feel the effects of all over her body in a low cut dress that hides little. The red-hot embers that promise so much are intensified in parts of her that his unmistakeable touch, have already claimed as his. Her knees feel as if they are about to give way as her racing heart has already abandoned her. On reaching him, intoxicating pheromones wreak havoc on her senses as he undoes the last button to his shirt and tares himself free of it. He scrunches the shirt in a ball, and tosses it up in the air for Genisis to swipe. Blameless for the way her body responds when Genisis buries her face in the article of clothing, Lazoo’s smile in the dark doesn’t go unnoticed by Genisis who looks down at him…his shirt is like a mask that accentuate her eyes and the look in them. Still seated, but now on the edge of the sofa, Lazoo and his hands find what they had been looking for beneath the sheer material. And then they begin to roam her hips, then buttocks, investing time that only deepens the need and dampness between her legs which he eventually succumbs to using his mouth, lips and tongue to reward himself….

PART 3

The music to which so much of a Network operative’s life happens continues like a sound track in a movie….Tone sings along with the music some say the chosen ones can hear in hi fi stereo on what’s known as the F3quenZor or a telepathic relay which they use as their own private communication channel: “I've been a puppet, a pauper, a pirate / A poet, a pawn and a king….”

Leaning against the opposite wall is Metofeaz who thought he’d tag along. Down the hallway, Le Mac reads the paper facing the elevators. Le Mac starts snapping his fingers to the music, it brings in Litigatti who offers a narrative in the form of a question to Tone whose face is inches from the door, “I will deal with them according to their conduct, and by their own standards I will judge them?”

“Let’s not forget the concept that lot of the scripture was written out of antipathy and disdain. Later it was remarketed to a demographic as a control mechanism…” Le Mac’s seldom heard voice has a sobering effect. The voice of reason that only deals in facts or well-founded hypothesis cuts through the chirpiness of the moment. Following that there’s a brief moment where Tone and Metofeaz straighten themselves out, like workmen who the boss has walked in on in the midst of doing something other than the work.

Tone knocks on the door of the address he was given by Hannibal Ammer.

Metofeaz decided to attend the early rounds of Tone’s prize giving ceremony when the name given to Tone by Ammer turned out to be Tait Stevenson, Clarenta’s private investigator. Killing an ex-cop, bent or not was a punishable crime, if the order had come from anyone else but Ammer.

Metofeaz backs himself to be able to either talk some sense into Tone in the end, or if he has to, he will tip off Stevenson, a sorry excuse for a human being even before the Network was able to tie him to an indecent act involving a minor. Nothing was more inexcusable than violent and sexual acts against children but justice had to be served the same way to all, so the system would work the way it was designed to.

That said, there was a part of Metofeaz that was looking forward to what Tone had in store. Morbid Mayhem was a ritual for Tone. From start to finish Tone’s process could take up to a year. It started out with a courting period during which time Tone would find time to build a relationship with the person who eventually Tone would slowly torture to death in some abandoned warehouse or mutilate beyond recognition while the person was still alive sometimes in the comforts of their own home.

Tone truly believed he was chosen to deliver punishment to child molesters and paedophiles. He had perfected his process for raging his retribution on deviants taking it an art form.

“Must I knock again? Opportunity only knocks once…” Tone’s James Stewart impersonation is an early indicator of just how badly Tone wanted this one. The more jovial Tone was during the cat and mouse stages of the kill, the more furious Tone would be in the killing stages of his Morbid Mayhem. It was like Tone had only so much “convivial” inside him, and each time he was affable it depleted the small amount of cordialness which was replaced by an evil currant that tasted sweeter to Tone than ever.

“James Elton, either one of you heard of him? Metofeaz decides to test the waters in regards to the information Ammer had given him on Lazoo. The file on James Elton came in a box. One of them archive boxes. The sign out sticker had been torn off the lid of box and the pages inside were well read with creases from dog ears and stain marks from cups of coffee that looked like wax seals left by readers high up the chain.

Tone, a simple person once you separate the psychopath from the abused child, really only has two reactions to every situation. The first is one of confidence, in which he responds immediately, most times with bravado. The second reaction is when he doesn’t know the answer and deems it a challenge rather than an opportunity to learn and improve himself. In which case he’ll ignore or avoid the question, or confrontation as far as he’s concerned. His head turns ever so slightly, followed by his shoulders drooping as if someone had suddenly spoiled his party.

The door opens and there’s no one there. “Can I help you?” A little voice directs Metofeaz’s attention downwards to where he sees a child. She looks to be about three, possibly four.

“Tell your father we came to see him,” Metofeaz collects Tone around the shoulders, turning Tone in a full circle and then Tone almost trips as Metofeaz drags him towards the elevator, already open with Le Mac inside waiting for them.

Behind the door against the wall, holding a shotgun is Tait Stevenson. He exhales when he hears Metofeaz Litigatti tell his youngest daughter that they’re leaving, followed by hurried footsteps away from the door….“THAT’S LIFE…” Tone Horroh’s voice transcends his image as he’s being escorted into the elevator on the security monitors on the wall of the the apartment that only Clarenta and one other person knew Stevenson would be at.

CHAPTER SEVEN

PART 1

“Like the legend of the Phoenix / All ends with beginnings / What keeps the planets spinning / The force from the beginning…”

At 3:00am, Lazoo kicks the soles of ghosts down Broadway. The semblance of a normal life was only an impression on the wings of a bird of prey, too high in the sky to care as it circled the half dead corpses down in the perfect desert. The spiralling is from diving hopes when the bird zeroed in on its food, forgetting that it had a passenger on its wings….

Intermittently Lazoo lets a surreal reality of the New York he’s created in his play fill his mind. But for the most of the time, he dwells in a world with unblemished landscapes and self-fulfilling kaleidoscopes of a well-meaning précis born of an eloquent mind, debilitated by words that would only harm those he meant to care for. Walking out on Genisis was his way of dealing with how much he felt for her, which was far beyond any notion that he had imagined or could comprehend.

The context in which what had happened which ended in him leaving Genisis to wake alone begins to dawn on him. Lazoo decided he would pop out to think and hopefully get a handle on things, which what he felt for Genisis was at the top of the list. Second was all those people linked to Clarenta, which he now has access to. And thirdly, the production in which he was going to wrap all of it up in. He slipped out of the apartment after experiencing both deep feelings from love and illicit passions tainted with red-hot lust that was unbound. The mix of emotion, energy from having made up his mind that he was going to take what he can from Clarenta and the opportunity to display what he’s capable of is a heady concoction for someone who prefers to be keep their business to themselves.

A conscience is loudest and most active when dealing with what’s imperative to survival. Making those things we take for granted less important when it comes to what’s right and wrong. In a transactional life like the one Lazoo had led what is reciprocated is marginal with very little risk involved when it came to feelings. Getting an insight to what it must be like to be dependent on someone and vice a versa was an awakening for Lazoo, which he realises. And it confounds his preconceived ideas on what an intimate relationship consists of. Somehow he has to find a way to come to terms with this new phenomenon if he wants Genisis in his life.

In the case of business, Broadway’s lights douse a heavy soul in colours. The refractions of altered light warms some of Lazoo while it chills the parts of him that shuns aspects of his job like the limelight and the corruption he can be linked to if anyone really finds him that threatening that they would smoke him out. If that were the case he would make sure that he would bring down the house of cards that he was already starting to construct within Clarenta’s world.

The fresh morning air thins the congestion of doubt triggered by a growing moral sense within Lazoo. The music in the air he becomes aware of carries a message which neither eases nor increases his new found burden.

The question was, was Lazoo in the right frame of mind for such an undertaking, when all he set out to do was to make a bit of money off of Harry Clarenta?

Music from somewhere floats through the streets, “She's up all night to the sun / I'm up all night to get some / She's up all night for good fun / I'm up all night to get lucky…”

Lazoo wonders if Genisis is still back at his place he decides to make a beeline for.

PART 2

“We’re up all night to get lucky…” Inconsistencies stew beneath the lights of Mr Pink’s club. Nothing another drink someone hands her through the crowded dance floor won’t fix is Genisis’ motto. He hadn’t actually walked out on her. She woke around midnight to find herself alone on the sofa. His redeeming act was that he brought her a pillow and a blanket. Not long after that Genisis received a message from her best friend Danielle inviting her to Mr Pink’s where she and a group of friends were partying.

Genisis decision to come to Mr Pink’s was solely based on the fact that she had being promising Danielle whom she was with when Genisis first met Lazoo in Central park that they’d catch up. But as these matters go with those one tends to take for granted, it slipped down Genisis’ list of priorities as they do when a friend becomes engrossed in new found love, or the promise of it. There was some degree of needing to assert some sense self that was highlighted when Genisis woke from deep sleep following an amazing time to find that he had up and left her. The preceding session was a succession of love making, scintillating passion and lust that he unearthed in her which still has her in somewhat of daze that numbs suspicions of where he might be at this moment, and silences any alarm bells that should be ringing right now. Genisis waited for an hour during which time she sent several messages to Lazoo before she decided that it was the perfect time to catch up with her best friend.

PART 3

Daft Punk featuring Pharrell Williams who propose for seekers of enlightenment a simple solution to attain the fluidity of thought and clarity, pump the crowd into ecstasy down on the dance floor at Mr Pink’s which Metofeaz looks down on from the utmost level. Metofeaz puts a palm up to his left to defend himself as the waitress pushes a tray with an assortment of delights in front of him. On the silver tray engraved with an insignia, he counts Opium, MDMA Lucky 5, 6 and 7, LSD Sugar Cubes, mushrooms, some charley and cannabis to land the plane when the trip is over.... Metofeaz ardently snorts the air, as a resolute stance which he needs another swig of the tequila to wash down so his decision not to partake in what was once a way of life, is set in all parts of him. Le Mac, sensing the need for more serum, passes Litigatti another shot of Tequila.

Tone, who stands further down the railing with two women, part of the service here at Mr Pinks draped on either side of him, has spotted someone or something down in the crowd. Metofeaz follows Tone’s eye line and finds someone who looks familiar, which Le Mac reminds Metofeaz of who she is, “Lazoo’s lady”.

Metofeaz waits for Tone’s next reaction to what he’s seen, which Le Mac offers a commentary on what to look for “if he looks for Lazoo in the crowd that’s fine. If he’s that obsessed with Lazoo that he wants what’s Lazoo’s then we’ve got another mission on our hands…”

Metofeaz, Le Mac and Tone had worked as a team off and on since the ‘80s. But Metofeaz made it a point not to get close or waste time on trying to get to know Tone on personal level. Metofeaz knew he used to be hired killer and that anyone smart enough would have guessed that Tone would do it out of the kindness of his heart. And that on the job Tone couldn’t be trusted not to let his warped sense of justice interfere with his judgment. Metofeaz also knew that the day would come when it came down to one of them having to bow out in the line of duty if not over something trivial. It came down to principles and values, which Tone had none.

“Ms Jones, from a good family. It never ceases to amaze me the phases people go through…” Le Mac flashes the bottle of Tequila for Metofeaz to see, who holds out his glass and then he takes it back before Metofeaz searches for something in his jacket. He finds his phone. The light on the screen lights up his face, the message he reads brings a smile which quickly disappears when he clicks the screen lock on his phone and holds it down by his side like nothing had happened. “How is she?” Le Mac is a decent enough guy who tries his best to abide by the rules, which isn’t easy being Tone’s minder. A graduate from UCLA, Le Mac felt indebted to Tone who paid for Tone’s education from proceeds of Tone’s work as a hit man, a vocation Tone took up when he should’ve been in school.

“She’s fine, at least that’s what she tells me,” Metofeaz explains to Le Mac his situation with Sharon.

“Fine as in she’s okay or she’s still totally fine with this life?”

“Fine as in she’s still okay with this life, I guess…”

CHAPTER EIGHT

PART 1

“Damn all these beautiful girls / They only wanna do your dirt / They'll have you suicidal, suicidal / When they say it's over…

Out front of building which once housed Club Samoa on 52nd Street, Lazoo paces as he searches for the right words to not only address loyal the followers who have shown up in numbers for the latest instalment of the GAME but to also express the way he feels, harnessing the new spirit or vigour he has been blessed with. Above him on the first floor of the building still undergoing a refurbish for the official opening of MMESOL in two days’ time, a DJ behind his rig set up on the balcony provides the music to which Lazoo superimposes his monologue.

“Sultry sadness is common place in an opera. Tragedy is the secret ingredient in a love story that sets it apart from all other stories…” Lazoo speaks into the megaphone. His voice sounds different, if anything it’s more potent for the gathering of women, men and couples. Some have even brought their their children along to what was billed as a “Gala Opening of Something Tragic.”

“The real tragedy in society today is that not everyone is destined to find love, in which case someone has to provide that love to the less fortunate, the forgotten, those begotten in hate, fear and irascible trepidation without thought to their well-being as humans later in a horrid life without love!”

Lazoo lowers the megaphone to see what sort of reaction he gets from the crowd. They’re transfixed as usual, waiting on his next word. He quickly checks for the girls he can see in their costumes down the street to which the crowd are none the wiser.

A calculated risk is still a risk. What’s at stake should be weighed carefully against what can go wrong. Like most opportunists, Lazoo couldn’t wait to implement the cunning plan he had hatched, when all one needs to do to avoid being labelled an opportunist is to exercise due diligence. His research would’ve confirmed for him that the followers who were taken by his charm, good looks and carefree approach to wooing them preferred their sleaze served up in the safety of the boudoir by someone they trusted and cared for.

A myriad of thoughts about what the crowd’s reception will be when they see girls, crosses Lazoo’s mind. Call them whatever you will: Ladies of the night, curb servers, pros, working girls, hookers, money honeys, escorts, street walkers, at the end of the night they still worked in a brothel. And one that Lazoo was charged with building.

A person’s judgement is primarily based on three things—what’s at stake, experience, and knowledge—and its processed in that order when it comes to decision making, barring advice, if they’re lucky enough to have access to advice that’s sound. The equation is fairly simple, it’s what’s at stake, deduced by experience and divided by knowledge and/or advice. If these three things are devisable by the same factor, then the decision is without doubt and is obvious.

Lazoo, alone in all of this, without a soul to turn to figured he’d use what he’d been gifted as a device to hopefully bring together his work thus far and the new challenge Clarenta had given him. His cunning plan was paradoxical, even in his own head, let alone for someone else’s, like a spectator looking to be entertained, which Lazoo had no doubt he could do. But it’s about the idea and most importantly what it stands for which reflects on its designer and creator.

Self is the factor on which all of life’s calculations and equations are based. The more apparent or defined one’s true or authentic self is the greater the chances that their purpose in life will be fulfilled….

PART 2

Genisis finds a spot at the edge of the crowd on the pavement across the street from where Lazoo continues to stake his claim as New York’s most popular street entertainer. People from all backgrounds, but mostly from the middle class in their thinking—conservative for the sake of fitting in and extreme in what they would do to spice up their lives—as long as it was in numbers and there was a chance it of making the news. Gen-X and soon to be indoctrinated into the cyclic stream of life, knee high Gen-Y swarm to be close to the lastest thing that hasn’t yet failed, and embarrassed itself in the limelight they’ve created for themselves.

A sense of longing knotted with trepidation that’s laced in a tingling sensation rooted in euphoria fills Genisis when she forgets her pragmatic view of what’s happening on the street in front of her. The guy standing at the front of the huge crowd is who she came to see, lay eyes on, maybe snare a kiss from. She would even settle for a message at this distance.

Beyond the anecdotal lines, which his fans crave and the freewheeling façade that brings together a sublime diversion for something else, Lazoo is a whole person that Genisis had met. His act which he sketches in his head and then almost without care or regard for the audience, whether or not they actually understand what he’s on about is just that, an act. Genisis had her own diversion, which she quickly reverted back to over the past week, her studies. Everything though came back to him, a pleasurable pain she happily endured as she read about his traits in her textbooks and case studies of a condition with all the right symptoms that drew her perilously closer to Lazoo.

Stunning looking women dressed in animal costumes, a leopard, followed by a tiger then a black widow and then a cheetah walk down the street till they reach the edge of the crowd and then they disperse into the crowd thrilling the children, pleasing the parents, especially the males. Once the women, more than thirty Genisis had counted, some as young as teenagers and others close to middle age were in the crowd, then they came out by the front door of the building in single file and carried on into the building.

Above Lazoo a white cloth drops to unveil the sign MMESOL, the small writing beneath the initials is hard to read from across the street, “Manhattan’s Most Exclusive Salon Of Love” but Genisis was ready for the worst when she hadn’t heard from Lazoo since Saturday evening….

“They'll have you suicidal, suicidal / When they say it's over…”

For whatever reason the DJ on the balcony fades out the feel good sounding song with a serious message, Lazoo decided he would use to help sell his point, which there was no arguing, if at all anyone in the crowd had questioned what he was up to, ethically. Genisis understood the nature of marketing, and the different layers within a person that can be attacked with a well thought out message wrapped up in sugary or sometimes shocking screamers. She dismisses the notion that he would’ve thought that deeply about it as to use suicide as an argument for prostitution. Rather, he picked a catchy tune for the beautiful girls to parade to.

The cynical piano notes in the surrounds are of a tune composed by an aching heart. The song notates words, which Genisis might be too frightened to modulate, ever. Adele sings them for her instead…

“I've made up my mind
don't need to think it over
If I'm wrong I am right
don't need to look no further
This ain't lust, I know this is love…”

“Should I give up or should I just keep chasing pavements?....”

PART 3

Adele’s voice convolutes the afterglow of another successful raid by Lazoo on the streets of New York.

Metofeaz turns up the stereo, in front of him on the pavement metres from the front of the cab, Genisis watches on as across the street Lazoo waves to crowd before he follows his girls up the stairs bringing another cheer, which loses its glee in Genisis’ seclusion.

In front of Genisis pretending not to notice her is Tone.

“I have a crisp one hundred dollar bill that says, soon our man Mr. Horroh will be involved in the nastiest, dirtiest revenge sex imaginable,” Le Mac places the money on the dashboard. Metofeaz looks at it and then at Genisis. Something inside Metofeaz wants this story to be different from others he’s witnessed over the years involving everyday people caught in their crossfire.

“Lazoo’s still a civilian,” Metofeaz’s response is short. Maybe it’s because when Metofeaz places himself in the firing line where he and the Tourist are concerned, which has been countless times over the years, he’d like to believe that at no time in their history has Sharon ever chosen to forfeit their trust.

Metofeaz turns the stereo up louder, till Le Mac takes his money back off the dash….

“Should I give up or should I just keep chasing pavements?
Even if it leads nowhere?”

CHAPTER NINE

“The Look of Love”

PART 1

Lazoo who stands no more than 5’10 finds a patch in the sun. In the air, spring time’s fragrance, warm but still fresh and sweet fills Central Park where people adorn a different look from the one they can only bear to wear on sensible days. Even for Lazoo, a physically fit and articulate guy, the atmos is intoxicating and the scenery befitting of a scene in his head, he uses to fuse reality with a dreamlike sequence for a surreal augmentation that embellishes life to give him an edge, evident from his half-cocked smile and the glint in his eyes.

The swagger is from what he’s achieved in the real world using his limited education he received in juvenile hall and not the long list of women he’s bed and even longer list of men he’s put to sleep with his fists. Life over the past five years since he finished parole hasn’t been all plain sailing but he was starting to enjoy life. His latest trick is simple and clean without the need for muscle unless a jealous husband or boyfriend came knocking. His rich client list that paid for his company, turned out to be a readymade shop for information, mostly tips from other rich clients involving the sharemarket. They would pick up the bill for a decent meal and then hand over his share of a windfall from the information he gave them.

For kicks, the only child still played on his own, only now the games he played involved real people replacing the imaginary characters he conjured to play out roles he needed to push him further in finding his purpose in life.

Lazoo lies down on his stomach to survey what he calls the promising patch, the area in which he spotted the woman he feels he needs to meet. The rising in the middle of the space about the size of the courtyard he spent five agonising years on days like today, resembles a sacred mound where one would erect an altar to the Gods. Around it, couples, families, and friends in groups frame the place where she sat as a hallowed spot for an outcast like Lazoo, who was taken by something other than her appearance—an eternal beauty—one could possibly surmise. Which is a concept that is not entirely foreign to Lazoo, but it was a rare occasion when he looked beyond a woman’s face, body and the look in her eyes when she looks up at him from some place below him.

On the perimeter of the promising patch, under a Corona sun umbrella set up and ready to go the DJ taps on his microphone.

Lazoo turns on his side to look at the trees behind the DJ at the edge of the park where the dealers and homeless mingle. The homeless guy who smiles an awful lot (and it wasn’t a crazed a smile) for someone in his situation is talking to two men in suits, not your off the rack kind for cops, but tailored, and expensive. Lazoo, to this day still maintained for his mother’s sake, rest her soul, that he was novice at all of this—a lightweight compared to the likes of those guys in the shade of the trees. The African American guy is meant to be a finance broker for indie film makers. He funds their projects with drug money. The Hispanic looking one is said to have worked for Marsellus Wallace at one time, even got a mention in the movie Pulp Fiction as Antwan Rockamora AKA Tony Rocky Horror, half Samoan and half black who Marsellus supposedly threw off the balcony for giving Marsellus’ wife Mia a sensual foot massage. Dude was meant to be overweight, he was anything but.

The DJ’s music expresses what Lazoo wonders about—if he’s at all noticeable by the eagerness—he has to see this woman again. Orchestrated nuances crafted by Burt Bacharach in his masterpiece “The Look of Love” is blended in a mellow glow, when it’s finely distilled by lucent spheres that appear in front of him when Lazoo settles back on his front to see if one thing which he hasn’t been able to stop thinking about, has materialised upon the promising patch…..

PART 2

Spring break was in full swing. Of all the places in the world, New York City’s Central Park was the place where Genisis Jones wished to be with her friends from college, her friends from the past, and future friends if they shared her views on life, maybe challenge her about them so she could argue the finer points that make them her own unique perspective. Born a Democrat, her parents were both hippies who marched for various causes, so it was natural for Genisis to question the status quo, which saves her from being tagged a rebel. But she was more moderate than liberal, maybe that was—Genisis’ rebellion—against her hippie parents who were long past their flower power days of beads and flairs.

“He’s back, and he’s wearing your favourite. The black sleeveless t-shirt some slut tore the sleeves off before she left her nasty nail marks all over his back that you’ll always have to touch, every time you two do the deed,” Danielle nonchalantly chats away in her candid style, which makes her unique to Genisis as the two women make their way through the families on the ground to their spot, which by some miracle no one has taken. Genisis rolls her eyes behind the shades, but says nothing waiting to hear more. “He’s checking out guys. See, I told you. The good ones, by now they’re chained to bed posts, pussy whipped by bitches whose only other option in life is a job at Walmart…”

Genisis from upstate New York finds it amusing that she would meet someone in Central Park in spring. She always met guys in familiar surroundings and in the cold of winter, like the one she got engaged to at the age of twenty one. She met him in the library. And her first boyfriend, who she met at her afterschool job. Other than that, she can count how many flings she’s had on one hand, all of them started out in the cold months, one or two came again in the summer. Genisis had no regrets. All of her relationships except for her first boyfriend which lasted for five years run their course till the flame died of natural causes. She received her fair share of attention but Genisis was always too busy for something mind blowing to happen. Maybe she shied away from the ones that promised her the world, after her first boyfriend, who was directly responsible for her engagement to the first guy that asked her out following boyfriend numero uno who hurt Genisis. She wasn’t scarred, it was possible that Genisis knew too much from her studies about human nature which strongly suggested that life just is, and the feelings we suffer from can be explained in a very logical way. For instance, her sudden interest in this guy who’s noticed her, is merely a chemical reaction by the body aided by a healthy dose of vitamin D, synthesized by the body from being exposed to too much of the sun’s rays.

Not to mention the song that’s playing in the park—one of Genisis’ favourites—the Diana Krall version. It was the same song that was playing when Genisis first came across the handsome stranger in the park three days ago. Then, he was busy telling a young boy, who at first Genisis thought was his, “If you want the girls to stop pestering you and hitting you, all you have to do is be nice to them, young man. It’s an oxymoron, hitting you is their way of saying they like you. And obviously someone’s told you that boys don’t cry. So, they’re extremely fascinated by the fact that when they hit you, you’re okay. It’s complicated, young man, simply put it’s the machoism in action, and don’t ask me to spell it. Hell! I don’t even know what it looks like!” When the boy’s mother appears, the guy becomes bashful as if what he said meant something to him….

Genisis decides that she’ll take a quick peak to see for herself whether or not the handsome stranger was checking out other woman. Genisis was still in that curious stage about this guy, the phase just before infatuation sets in. If he did have a wandering eye, she’d rather know about it now….

PART 3

“The look of love is in your eyes…”

Dusty Springfield in background provides incidental pieces that a mother and child who only have each other will remember for as long as they breathe the vivid air of a summer’s night.

"James, James." Janine Elton checks to see if her seven-year-old son is still awake. He looked comfortable in the warmth of the June night. The poetry his mother read him till he wandered off into dreamland, a fine replacement for the hot chocolate and other luxuries that she could not afford for them.

“It’s all about a purpose son,” Janine whispers in hope that the fertile plains of his exciting mind accept her voice and words that her mother shared with her.

She closes the hand bound leather book that lies across her chest. It was the closest thing to a family heirloom that her mother, also Janine, had left for her. She called it the POEMBOOK. It was one of two diaries written by Jon Pierre Solomon who was someone in her mother’s life. The matching diary called the STORYBOOK contained stories inspired by the poems, is said to be floating around somewhere. It was thought to be either at a chateaux in France, somewhere in the South Pacific where Jon Pierre came from, or in New York where Metofeaz Litigatti, JPS’ adopted son lives.

James Elton, who you could say was like any other little boy in most ways, had a favourite poem from the POEMBOOK. It was about a character called Little Lazoo who grew to become a man who possessed a gift which allowed him to woo whomever he wanted, for whatever purpose, Lazoo had in store….

CHAPTER TEN

PART 1

“Do you realise it’s only 34 days till Christmas day?” Lazoo is adamant that he can fix the situation with Genisis. His smile is free of all the pressures of life, following an overdue work out, in which he expelled the toxins of stress, just prior to meeting with Genisis, who initially was reluctant about the idea. And who can blame her, he hadn’t called the only woman in his life in over two weeks.

“816 hours, 48,960 minutes, 2,937,600 seconds, if you’re into the minute detail,” Lazoo flashes the famous smile again in hope that it does the trick.

After another decent dose of uncomfortable silence, Lazoo does his best to stop himself from grinning as he makes another attempt to foil the misconception that he’s like every other man who’s promised a woman the universe.

He decided on a quaint Italian restaurant in Brooklyn, as the place where they’d rekindle the flame. All hopes aside, Lazoo knew that it wasn’t going to be that simple. Over the past two weeks he kept telling himself that in order to move forward in his new life with Genisis he had to acclimatise to his work life as a brothel owner, a theatrical director, in the guise of a hustler, who was a marked man by people who make your run of the mill gangsters look like altar boys.

“I was there at the opening of your new project,” Genisis reads the menu for something to do as she waits for Lazoo to respond.

“Met some person there by the name of Tone, who says he’s a friend of yours,” Genisis finds the wine list in the back of the menu as she waits for Lazoo to say something.

Instantly, Lazoo’s mind clouds over on hearing that name come from Genisis’ lips, which he tries to forget as he fights to regain linear perception. Tonight was about amalgamating what matters most to Lazoo with that other life of his.

The strain from restraint is evident in his squinting. Lazoo finds the glass of water he needs badly and throws it back like liquor.

“The bruise on your arm, tell me how it happened?” Lazoo pours himself another glass of water, only to remember to see whether Genisis’ requires a refill.

“That lingerie, I bought you….” Aware of his anger, Lazoo pauses before he goes any further.

The sound of the waiter’s footsteps, fill the void till he’s standing at the edge of the table. Lazoo holds the menu up for the waiter to see and points at something, “times two,” and then he flips to the wine list and points at another item. The waiter collects the menus, and leaves Lazoo and Genisis to face each other.

Judging from the events of the evening thus far, Lazoo sensed that he wasn’t about to achieve his aim, not tonight anyway.

“I didn’t mention the incident with the homeless man, that’s how I bruised my arm….” Genisis begins to explain.

“Hold it!” Lazoo interjects with a bemused look, “did you hear yourself?” Lazoo leans back and inserts his thumbs under the waist line of his trousers, “how YOU bruised your arm?” Lazoo leans back in on the table as a couple enter through the front door.

Careful not to sound like a jealous boyfriend, “this homeless guy, he didn’t happen to have a killer smile, did he?”

“As far as the homeless go, it wasn’t half bad,” Genisis’ smiles at the waiter who approaches with a bottle of wine.

“Okay, we need to talk. Yes, I’m in charge of MMESOL, Manhattan’s Most Exclusive Salon Of Love. That doesn’t mean I condone what goes on in that place. It’s purely business…”

Lazoo looks at the waiter who waits for him to taste the wine. “What is it with you people—if you’re not sure if the wines good or not—why bring it out in the first place? Just pour it!”

PART 2

The moonlight, that’s all so kind to lovers—its shadows that hide the truth—shines down on Central park. Lazoo can see the promising patch from the balcony of his white room.

“The Look of Love” by Diana Krall for the moment soothes any conceivable questions that silence has a way of asking.

“The vivid air of a summer’s night, aahhh…” Lazoo exhumes all exasperations in a longing sigh.

“This song reminds me of my mother….” He shares something tangible for once, with someone who was merely looking for a simple response.

Lazoo’s admission is heart-warming to say the least for Genisis who had battled through dinner not to speak her mind. There had been glimpses of the person she met, only to be overwhelmed by someone she somehow gets but can’t quite connect with. Maybe it was the hurt? But as a practitioner, Genisis wanted to believe that she could help herself and differentiate his behaviour, possibly brought about by a change, from the caring and thoughtful human being that captured her eye, captivated her mind and catapulted her heart, above its flat line, allowing Genisis to imagine possibilities beyond her wildest dreams, not to mention his touch….

PART 3

Tone circles the man gagged with tape and with his hands tied above his head. Tone looks up at the ceiling of the gymnasium along the rope.

“It’s a long way from the top, but I guess you’re used to lower lying areas?”

Tone twirls the switch blade in his right hand between his index and middle finger. The paedophile that traumatised victims as little as babies at the children’s hospital he was janitor at for over three years is not sure where to look. Tone starts his customary circling of his prize.

“PUR-POSE!” Tone barks.

“That’s right! We’re all born with a purpose. Mine is to ensure your kind is extinguished. In achieving that I become distinguished, as it were….”

Tone, a well-built man with rugged looks is self-conscious. Rarely does he hold his shoulders square for fear of appearing bigger than he is. He doesn’t get angry for fear of frowning and what it may look like. Only during Morbid Mayhem does he allow himself to vent his fears.

It’s like the calm before the storm, the clouds rolling in, silent but menacing…Tone looks down at his shinney shoes as he continues to address the dead man hanging, like the wind that gathers energy from the atmosphere, Tone’s delivery is more pertinent.

“I can find your Aorta with this blade. And I can find any of your Jugular veins. Maybe I’ll pin prick the anterior jugular vein so the oxygenation process is fucked with, ah? What you say?”

Tone reaches the back of the man and stops. “Do you like the movies? Now I want you to answer that carefully, so you don’t somehow manage to put you and I in the same decrepit category…”

The man shuts his eyes from fear, but more so to restrain tears of hopelessness. When Tone, lighty taps him on the back of the head using the back of his hand, the reaction is a violent thrashing which gives some insight to what the average looking, sounding and behaving person might’ve been like with his victims. The muffled screams only serve to modulate and calm Tone’s mood so he is able perform his Morbid Mayhem to the letter.

Tone steps to the side so he’s looking at the man’s profile, “how about, I give you a makeover so you can look like the Joker, ah? How’s that sound? Did you see that movie? Or do you and your pals only share that rubbish about defenceless children?”

Tone takes another step to his left so he’s standing in front of the man.

His feet together, head bowed, Tone clasps his hands in front of him, holding the blade downwards. Like all performers, every movement is meant to entrance. His serene state in the evening light, a perfect picture of harmony that Tone had painted and now was the moment when it would come to life. He raises his arms in front of him, like a he’s commandeering hearts and minds of an audience. The quick, succinct action that follows when his right hand moves only slightly is all that was required.

Tone takes one more step to his left so he’s standing next to the man, like he’s the magician and here is the outcome…The knife was lodged in the man’s face, who at this stage is stricken, frozen in some state of shock maybe? Its head moves in a slow circle starting at the back on one side until it completes a full rotation and then it simply slumps against a shoulder, where it lays neatly for the time being.

“Bravo!” Clarenta’s voice has a quiver about it. Tone turns to face his audience and takes a bow. When he comes up his smile is as placid as his demeanour.

Tone’s Morbid Mayhem, an act he took up once his days as cold blooded killer for organised crime were over and he became a Network operative was bit like a hobby for Tone. A few years back when a world-wide paedophile ring was uncovered, Tone was gifted the names of the ringleaders. Tone paid out of his own pocket for the six men to be lured to Vegas for a weekend, where they were put up in five star accommodation, only to be carved up one after the other for a select audience, arguably as perverse as the main attraction which took place centre stage in a private theatre on the strip.

Tone walks over to where Clarenta is seated on a fold up chair just outside the centre circle of the basketball court of the school in New Jersey that had been shut down a few years back. The deviant whose head hangs, worsening the damage as the knife moves when the blade hits his shoulder attended school here. He had played college basketball on the court where he now hangs from the rafters.

“Standing ovation I say,” from the shadows comes Hannibal Ammer’s voice.

“Thanks for the bonus, you there in the cheap seats,” Tone calls out to Ammer as he nears Clarenta who every so often needs a reminder of how real Tone’s Morbid Mayhem is.

Outside the doors of the gymnasium Le Mac can’t imagine a worse way to die, in the presence of Clarenta and Ammer who have successfully conspired over the years to thwart attempts by all agencies and the Network to dissolve their partnership. Ammer had been promising the powers that be for close on a decade, that one day soon he will be bring Clarenta’s head in on a platter, without the embarrassment of having to divulge that Clarenta was still on the payroll. The only person with the power to put an end to this saga, the Pacifican, whose identity Tone Horroh went by, a move by Ammer which ensured the Pacifican who was on the fatal mission with Clarenta back in ‘80s remained on the outta.

CHAPTER ELEVEN

PART 1

Seated around Lazoo’s dining table, a marble monstrosity, designed to comfortably seat thirty deserving guests, is Gene the shark, the criminal defence attorney who will play himself only without a fair amount of the grime he is synonymous with. Next to him is Jack Shack from the DA’s office who surprised Lazoo when he accepted the invitation to be part of a Christmas pantomime sponsored by Clarenta for charity. Shack’s role is of the DA in a story about a vagabond who comes to New York and ends up being framed for murder. Next to Shack is Tait Stevonsen who will also play himself but less the bent of crooked cop. And then there’s Jimmy Afra a fast talking African American who sports a bleached white afro, Mike Haze a small time punk and next to him is Shugit, one of the rebellious lost rich kids from the Compound who like to dress up in toga.

Tonight’s exercise is to familiarise the cast with the outline of the play to be presented at the Compound for New York’s rich and famous in a limited seven day season that runs from the Friday night before Christmas till Christmas day. Each night one act will be performed by the players assembled in Lazoo’s white room, climaxing in the finale on Christmas day.

The knock on the door is met with nervous looks by the characters Lazoo has invited to play a part in the play he’s created and which has been commissioned by philanthropist Harry Clarenta. The name of the play is “Without remorse, without alibi, and without burden.”

“Cleopatra, fashionably late,” circling the table in a slow deliberate way, Lazoo’s comment about Ali who pops her head through the door eases the tension in the air from an assortment of personalities and lifestyles. Lazoo reminds himself that the atmosphere, thick of mistrust and egotistical machinations is a good thing, which he can use to his advantage.

He looks around the table at the faces of men, whom in some way or another misused their power. From Tait, as a cop when he framed innocent men at Clarenta’s behest, to Mike Haze who organised cage fighting for Wall Street types to prove their manhood, which Lazoo was a part of for a while, going down for the right money and beating up on defenceless wimps who’s information Clarenta deemed useless. In a hierarchy of who’s who, Lazoo was at the top of the tree. Each one of the people at the table, bar Ms Lévon, who pulls out a seat next to Gene owed Clarenta. And Clarenta had a thing for Lazoo. It almost makes Lazoo want to laugh, but it was time to begin. First he must instil order and show his new troupe just how serious he was about what they were about to embark on. Hell! What were they going to do? Each one gathered here tonight had already incriminated themselves by simply showing up.

Lazoo unexpectedly quickens his step as he rounds the table, till he’s standing at the back of Shugit, a medical student and the most likely of the cast to spill the beans if heat were applied.

He grabs a fist full of hair and with the swiftest of actions, Lazoo plants Shugit’s face hard on the table. The sound is as putrid as it looks, when Shugit’s face square to the marble surface literally caves in from the force.

Jack Shack springs to his feet, but only dares to remain where he stands, as Lazoo lifts the head again and repeats himself before he yanks Shugit’s head back, letting him go for Shugit’s weight to tip his chair backwards sending him to the floor.

Jack’s fists are clenched which Lazoo notes as he marches up the side of the table to where Shack’s body language changes as Lazoo nears the tall man, around 6’4 maybe more.

“I want you to take you seat,” Lazoo looks out the window so as to avoid any eye contact that could be misinterpreted by Shack. And when he looks Shack in the eye, Shack has a knowing smile that peacefully fades as he lowers himself back into the chair.

Lazoo needed little aggravation for him to rise to the occasion. Somehow, Genisis had conveniently forgotten to explain to him exactly how she had bruised her arm, which Metofeaz Litigatti who wants Lazoo back behind bars definitely has something to do with. And how her lingerie in a rubber glove, ended up at his place. The rubber glove pointed to Tone Horroh’s involvement.

Mike Haze, is Lazoo’s next stop. “Help him up,” Lazoo demands Haze, who went close to becoming a pro boxer. Haze, not one to be rattled in front of others, ignores the order. Lazoo places his hands on the table in between Haze and Afra, forcing Haze to look to his right at Shugit. “I’m going to ask you one more time to help him up off the ground.” Lazoo spells out the order for Haze to get the message.
Haze slowly pushes himself out from the table and then gets to his feet and holds a hand out for Shugit who tries sitting up to take. Once Shugit is on his feet, Lazoo has another command for Haze, “knock him out….”

PART 2

Genisis stares out into the night. Friday night could’ve been a mistake if it weren’t for the way Lazoo made her feel —all night long and in the morning when she woke in his arms. It was like the old days, just weeks ago. Now it seemed like a lifetime ago. It makes Genisis smile. But then the unresolved, determined to test her resolve accumulate in the corners of her mind, finally converging to appeal to her sense of well-being. After all, Genisis’ goal in life was to help others understand why they felt the way they do… here she was affected by feelings from events which she thought she had a handle on.

The man she was seeing was involved in prostitution. His throwaway line about her becoming a therapist for the women at MMESOL had some merit. It at least showed Genisis, that in some way Lazoo did see the women as human beings. Then again, it might be just another cunning plan by a ruthless employer looking for ways to extract every last bit out of an animal for the sake of making money?

If he was caught up in prostitution, what’s to say he wasn’t involved in other unlawful activities?

Even for someone brought up by such open minded parents, Genisis couldn’t get beyond the obvious. Maybe that’s why she agreed to meet with Metofeaz Litigatti, who she can see down on the street as he makes his way down the pathway towards her apartment building.

Genisis lets him into the building when he beeps her intercom without saying a word.

When the door opens, less the beard, and dressed casually but reasonably well, a no nonsense type guy, a few years older and not much taller than Lazoo steps inside.

“You know my arm still hurts,” Genisis finds him easy to talk to right from the outset.

“I meant to get your attention, that’s all. The only other move I have is a head lock, and how would that’ve looked?” He obviously had a sense of humour.

Metofeaz finds a spot in the middle of the kitchen in the open plan apartment where he stands feet shoulders apart, with his hands held in front of him as if he owned the space.

“I was in Vegas, when you and Danielle collected your prize from the radio contest. You know? The walk on part in the U2 video.”

Genisis looks at the note from Metofeaz still pinned to the cork board. She had pondered the mathematical chances of it having anything to do with what happened ten years ago, when Genisis was just a teenager.

Metofeaz turns and leaves for Genisis to consume the veracity of his proclamation.

As Metofeaz turns the lock, Genisis who is a bit bamboozled by what Metofeaz just admitted to her, manages to ask, “Is he part of the Network? Or is he caught in the crossfire?”

“Lazoo?”

“Yes”

He’s caught in the crossfire, Genisis….”

PART 3

Metofeaz lifts the tied bundle of papers from the archive box. He places it beneath the reading lamp in the middle of the desk pad. He looks around the hotel suite he comes to, to be close to Sharon. It was the last place the couple had spent time together.

The name James Elton somehow sounds familiar, and he has to hand it to Ammer and the CIA, once again they live up to their reputation as being thorough. Building a world for Lazoo, complete with childhood pictures and an authentic looking birth certificate from 1970, must mean that John James Lazoo’s much more than what Metofeaz had suspected.

If Lazoo was FBI, or if he was for that matter, from any other agency outside of the CIA, they would’ve pulled their man by now, with the Network having jurisdiction under the watchful eye of the CIA. Which meant Lazoo could only be one of two things “one hell of an unlucky bastard or he was born in Langley (Home of the CIA)” as the Pacifican would say. Chances of Ammer having started up another Semi-System in Network which Lazoo or Elton was a part of were minimal. Ammer did try once before, not long after he came into the job, as counter measure for the Pacifican, Metofeaz and John Page AKA the Pirate, and he failed miserably nearly costing Ammer his job.

The documents mostly reports on Elton’s hits he carried out while inside, weren’t confessions. Nor were they statements by informants or witnesses, they were reports by the FBI, even though they were vanilla with the writer’s name and signature blacked out, the format and language was consistent with the Bureau’s standards. The dates on the reports close to the dates of the incidents according to coroner’s reports, which basically ruled Lazoo out as the writer. But then again he could’ve phoned them in? During his time in prison, Lazoo didn’t receive a single visit, not from family, since his mother had died when Elton was in a maximum security facility for youth. It wasn’t out of the question however that he was being groomed, or he was sent inside to create himself an identity. If so, why hadn’t he donned the name Lazoo in prison? He only started calling himself Lazoo when he arrived in New York, which was totally understandable after doing time.

“Lazoo” wasn’t a name completely foreign to Metofeaz. It was a name his mentor and father Jon Pierre had once named a phantom character in one of his cloaking devices or stories from the STORYBOOK, for a special mission. Metofeaz had been meaning to find the old man’s code book, like a coach's book of plays in which he documents his best ones for a rainy day. It was either laying somewhere in the basement of the Brownstone in Brooklyn, or it was in the library at the Chateaux in France, which he must remember to ask Sharon to send him the next time they speak. He hadn’t mentioned the peculiarity to anyone, mainly because the mere mention of JPS, who was Ammer’s, the Ammer two agents before the present one’s arch-rival, would cause unnecessary angst within the ranks.

Metofeaz goes through the reports again so he can satisfy himself that the reports were about who the hits were on. Each one of Lazoo’s hits was on a target that had made the FBI’s most wanted list.

Metofeaz begins to makes three stacks of documents. The first was for agency documents. The second was of newspaper articles and the third a pile for personal papers and a number of photos of Elton’s life before he entered into the system which was at the God forsaken age of nine. On the eve of his ninth birthday Elton tried killing a farmer in Wisconsin by driving a tractor with plough over the old man who had given him and his mother refuge when mother and her new born fled New York when James was just a day old.

It had been six long years, the Clarenta project. And who says that Ammer didn’t just wake up one morning and decide that he needed a way to ensure an outcome by having two horses on which he could place a bet each way? Forget which stable the animal came from, he was in the race. And alerting him of Lazoo’s possible past is just a way of distracting Metofeaz, who either way has to deal with Lazoo.

As he shuffles through the remaining pile to check whether or not they’re all just pictures of Elton and his mom, he comes across one of her and someone. It had been a long day, and his eyes were tired from straining them only to see some irrelevant gesture by someone who he could easily just write off as a nobody. But the figure standing next to who he thought was Lazoo’s mother Janine, whose name suddenly rings a bell is none other than Jon Pierre, his Dad….Metofeaz spends a few minutes reminding himself that the information had come from Ammer, before he decides to treat the photo with a grain of salt. He takes the box and looks in it to see if there’s any other papers left inside. There’s something at the bottom, which he slowly tips the box on an angle with the opening to the lamp. It’s some sort of garment. Slowly he tips the box in the opposite direction so the article sides out onto the desk. He uses a pen to lift what looks like a knapsack…..

CHAPTER TWELVE

PART 1

Christina Aguilera reminds the world of the season that brings tidings of a different nature for everyone. “This Christmas” fills the auditorium with a spirit that Lazoo’s tried to ignore for most of his life. He came up with his reason for dismissing Yuletide as a feeding frenzy for those more fortunate than others, at a young age. He received his first real or bought birthday and Christmas present at once when he turned six. It was when he started school, and his mother was able to take a job at the local bike factory. After receiving a bike on consecutive Christmases, the children at school began to tease James, “your mom’s a bike, and so that’s all you’ll ever get for Christmas…” At first James didn’t get the meaning of their taunts, till Janine explained to him that his father was from a wealthy Wisconsin family that she worked for as a maid. And at the age of fourteen she fell pregnant to one of the men in the family. Since returning to Pleasant Prairie from New York with James, a day old, the powerful family had tried its best to discredit Janine…Lazoo’s smile hides the truth, which is, he never did stop wanting to be part of the “giving season” which is what Janine called Christmas. “We have each other, some people have no one…” is what she’d tell him when his mother got him up early on Christmas and they’d go to the refuge where they’d cook meals for those less fortunate than them. It taught James two things. The first was, there is always someone less fortunate than him. The second thing it taught him, was Christmas is about giving. It wasn’t until James started school that he found out that children received presents at Christmas….

The girls from MMESOL dressed as Elves lend a hand to decorate the compound. They look like normal. The chance to do something for someone else by decorating the Compound which will host several charities over the coming weeks has that effect on people.

Lazoo stops himself from thinking about was brought on by thoughts of Genisis and their plans for Christmas. He looks around the Auditorium, and it doesn’t take long when he sees Shugit, and then Mike Haze, Jimmy Afra, Gene doing his best to secure a deal with one of the hostesses and Tait who tries talking to the youngest of the girls.

“Further down please,” Lazoo points to a place on the balcony where he wants the technician to mount a camera in the Auditorium in and amongst the mistletoe. It’s one of thirty security cameras across several locations which Lazoo has managed to convince Clarenta is a must for him to deliver his masterpiece. “The nativity of a man who was destined for greatness even after he is framed for murder has parallels in all our lives,” is how Lazoo sold the idea to Clarenta and the cast. Which wasn’t hard for Lazoo to sell to Shugit and co following the first meeting at Lazoo’s place. They all thought it was a great idea, especially Shugit who’s face remains puffed up and blackened seven days later.

“I actually like it, makes me look the part,” Shugit pats his face lightly and smiles and then the pain shuts him up.

“At least you won’t be needing make up. You’re already an asset to the project. And I bet you didn’t know it, did you now?” There’s very little difference in Lazoo’s sarcasm and his usual approach when dealing with the likes of Shugit.

Lazoo walks away to find a corner in the Auditorium where there’s no one. The undeniable anxiety that comes with Christmas suddenly overwhelms Lazoo. Right now it’s a reminder of how alone he is in this world. Only weeks before he was looking forward to spending his first Christmas since a child, with someone who he could share the magic with. He finds his phone and then Genisis’ number. He looks at her name long enough that it becomes a blur, and then a mist. In it he sees Genisis’ teary eyes. It was the first time since the afternoon of the tea party that he had taken the time to think about Genisis and what she really meant to him.

PART 2

“ Hang all the mistletoe / I'm gonna get to know you better, yeah / This Christmas / And as we trim the tree / How much fun it's gonna be together, yeah, ha / This Christmas…”

Genisis trims the tree, to the tune that floats through the uncertain but mostly believing air. The sweet and dour taste of love and its cost, lingers as Genisis remains in limbo about her and Lazoo. The manila folder that arrived by FedEx lays open. The documents with a hand written note from Metofeaz that claims, Lazoo’s real name is James Elton and that he’d done time and much worse, doesn’t quite register in Genisis’ mind, just yet.

Her mother was excited when Genisis told her that she would be bringing Lazoo home for Christmas for them to meet him. Her Dad’s usual reaction when it came to guys, made her laugh. It was his and every father’s way of letting their daughters know how special they are.

The visit from Metofeaz was a relief of sorts. All the self-righteous thinking and blaming had ceased as Genisis shed her normal skin, for her mission was now clear.

Guilty by association when she met John Page AKA the Pirate in a dive Hotel in Vegas in ’87 where she and Danielle were staying as a part of a prize she had won in a radio contest. It was the ultimate prize for any teenage girl, a walk on part in super group U2’s video for “I still haven’t found what I’m looking for.” She couldn’t remember Metofeaz, maybe he was one of three men who Page met up with on several occasions while he showed her and Danielle around Vegas?

Genisis and Page had stayed in touch over the years, during which time Genisis played small parts in a handful of projects. They ranged from being a receptionist for the day at some company Page wanted information about, to working a stand at a trade fair. The pocket money was great. It meant she never needed to ask her parents for anything. The last time she heard from Page was over two years ago. He told her then that there may be something coming up in New York over the next while which Genisis forgot about.. For the jobs he used Genisis, her becoming involved unfolded naturally in the course of everyday life. It was only during the assignment when Page would appear, requesting the information which he’d pay her for on the spot, and then he’d vanish till the next time.

At first Genisis struggled with what she was doing, for which Page convinced her that it was her duty to support the “cause” which its aim was to clamp down on corruption. The information she sold to Page substantiated his claims of blatant fraud, corporate espionage, embezzlement and conspiracy to commit murder in one case.

At the end of the day, Genisis imagined her parents would do the same in her situation. This was Genisis’ march on Washington, for a cause she believed in. Page, the same age as Genisis was a successful Network operative in mould of Jon Pierre Solomon, when he met Genisis in Vegas he was often stopped in the streets by people who mistook the Pirate for Johnny Depp.

Thinking back, there were a lot of similarities between Page and Lazoo, they had the same aura about them, a special blend of confidence and naivety. Lazoo’s tender, caring side which obviously not many people knew about, set Lazoo aside from all other men, Genisis had met.
“ Fireside oh is blazing bright / We're caroling through the night, yeah / And this Christmas will be, oh / A very special Christmas for me….”

PART 3

Metofeaz clicks play for the Christmas cheer that buoys the city, and Ms Aguilera obliges with a rendition that warms hearts, even the hardest not to mention the ones that need it most, the coldest.

Tone in the passenger’s seat and Le Mac in middle of the back seat can feel the formula, which JPS and the old-school agents used to win hearts and minds. Their way of doing things involved little torture or conflict.

Granted, that Horroh and Le Mac were colleagues, Metofeaz still missed working with likeminded operatives who fed off each other rather than the constant battle he faced with Tone and Le Mac. On top of that, there’s Sharon, who he misses dearly. Her devotion to the cause always made Metofeaz feel as if their their relationship was part of the job. He was the one who discovered Sharon and recommended her for the job. It all fell into place, and it was both convenient and functional for their roles as operatives, working as couple in the beginning. It was perfect for a while, till things between the pair became serious.

“In twenty five days it’ll be nice if we were in a different situation,” Metofeaz lets Tone and Le Mac in on where he’s at.

“So Lazoo’s a fully-fledged agent, uh?” Le Mac senses the need to get down to business.

“Seems like it,” Metofeaz turns the volume down on the stereo.

“It would appear that way. A two bit hustler wouldn’t have the balls or nous to pull together what he’s doing,” Le Mac’s thought brings a look from Tone.

“What I’d like for someone to explain to me, is, why am I always the last to know?” Tone asks looking out the window.

“Maybe if you were to read the detail once in a while, you’d feel informed,” Metofeaz wonders if Tone believes what he has hinted at.

“Reports about Lazoo’s hits behind bars as James Elton are on FBI letterhead….”

Metofeaz takes two manila folders from the middle of the seat and he hands one to Tone and the other over his shoulder to Le Mac. The folders contain copies of the FBI reports. Metofeaz took creative license when he made copies for his two colleagues.

“I still don’t like the son of bitch, in fact I like him less.” Tone’s comment as he takes the folder is the reaction Metofeaz had hoped for.

CHAPTER THIRTEEN

PART 1

The cast for Lazoo’s Christmas play soon bonded. The rehearsals consisted of an hour going over the script and then for the rest of time, business that arose from the meeting of the powerful, the perceptive and the persuasive without a conscience, took precedence. Rehearsals were held at a different location each time. But wherever it was, it was a hub of activity. From parking fines, to building permits, to contract hits on husbands, wives, grandparents for inheritance, non performing managers, dishonest staff, the agenda was long. There was every type of transaction imaginable. Naturally Shack handled all matters concerning the city. Tait was the liaison with the NYPD. Gene managed all contracts for hits over fifty thousand dollars, and Mick Haze would take care of all the smaller contracts. And the house or Clarenta would take a hefty fee from every transaction.

Lazoo sat back and pretended he didn’t care about what was going on. And as long the glue, which was the play in the name of charity happened, that was Lazoo’s only concern. Clarenta was as generous as ever, obviously grateful for Lazoo’s ability set up new enterprise for him. MMESOL was starting to turn a profit already, with new clientele that flew in from as far away as the Middle East to enjoy the palatial surroundings and the unbeatable talent Lazoo attracted to MMESOL. The success was spurred on by rumours that supermodels moonlighted at Manhattan’s Most Exclusive Salon Of Love for six figure sums.

Lazoo throws the door behind him as he makes his way to his desk in the modestly decorated office.

Gene’s voice with its southern twang, that’s still noticeable, carries, even on the frequencies that transmit data from one of the six cameras in the sunken lounge off the reception area. To Lazoo, the playback on the monitors is like regurgitated sick, for which he turns down the volume for some much needed silence. He opens his diary to tomorrow’s date, Saturday December 6 1997. If someone had told him when he hopped off the bus in ’91 that in six years he’d be, this deep in the shit again, he would’ve bought himself a return ticket to whence he came immediately.

In his diary the eleven o’clock meeting with Metofeaz, in hindsight was too close to the one at twelve, another street shake for the fans who were still showing up in droves.

Instinctively, Lazoo found Metofeaz, regardless of what he represented and who Metofeaz worked with to be different from the rest of the hoods around him. In Lazoo’s life, the law and the police were non-existent. If you found yourself in a bind, you dealt with it by means available to you. Metofeaz mentioned he had something which Lazoo might be interested in. If it was life as a Network operative, Lazoo could do without. The pay was great, based on a finder’s keepers system that permits an N-O to keep any payments, profits, royalties and bonuses they amass in the line of duty, tax free in their real life once they retire. But being loathed by both the law and the criminal fraternity wasn’t all that appealing to Lazoo right now, especially when he had seen how closely the two forces are linked at times through the likes of Clarenta, Shack, Gene and Tait.

PART 2

Genisis waits behind the iron gates of what’s known in certain circles as the Compound. The plush mansion is fortified but in stealthy fashion that doesn’t dim its magnificence.

Behind her the cab flees the scene as the iron gates move to the sound of an electric motor. Then in the distance the front doors of building with a 1700’s façade imported brick by brick from Germany open.

Dressed elegantly, in a two piece suit, not to dumb down her credentials, Genisis puts a foot forward once the gates have stopped.

Her heart races from the sheer enormity and danger of the task she’s decided to take on, which the only real prize is Lazoo, who languishes in no man’s land. Her phone beeps that she’s received a message, and then it beeps again that another message has arrived, followed by another. Genisis finds her phone in handbag as she keeps walking for the door. She quickly switches the phone off and drops it in her bag and tries to forget about who the messages might be from.

Genisis finds herself inside the Auditorium, famed for its decadent parties and who knows what else? Even with the Christmas decorations, there’s creepiness about the place, that’s heightened by what is easily the largest screen Genisis has seen. On it is footage of Lazoo in Central park, at work on the street and in the brothel. Lazoo’s voice and image which fills the room is off-putting for Genisis. For obvious reasons Genisis hadn’t informed Lazoo of her meeting with Clarenta today. Genisis sits down on a sofa at right angles with the one Clarenta is on. Clarenta in a black suit in the middle of the stage surrounded by raised seating in the centre of Auditorium looks more like a talk show host than the villainous creature that he is.

“It takes a brave human to meddle in matters so twisted that the truth is merely a lie in waiting,”

“It’s not bravery but compassion,” Genisis reminds Clarenta of her reason for wanting to meet him.

“So let’s say I take you on as you’ve asked as a “therapist” for my employees down at the salon. Where does that leave me and Lazoo? It seems like a desperate play by a jilted lover, to be quite frank…”

Genisis looks at the screen, “is this live?”

“As live as we are?”

“Then you will understand….” Genisis looks at the screen on which Lazoo has his back faced to the camera. He sits in an office, at the brothel, Genisis presumes. He watches the wall of monitors in front of him. She didn’t mean for her comment to sound emotionally charged, but the circumstance and what’s at stake ensured that it was a plea to Lazoo rather than an answer for Clarenta….

PART 3

In the sound proof control room of the studio in Harlem, Tone in the padded high back producer’s seat looks over the multi-track desk, while Metofeaz leans against the noise reducing padded insulation on the walls as he studies Tone.

“That’s incredulously corrupt sounding I’d have you know…” Tone complains about how Tait Stevonsen is now off limits to him and his Morbid Mayhem.

“Who knows, you and Lazoo might bond over Tait’s carcass, which Lazoo will obviously decommission Tait for when the time is right….” Metofeaz kneads Tone’s pressure point.

“Hold on for a second buddy, but isn’t Lazoo FBI?” Tone smarts.

“F-B-I, E-Y-E, B-I-T, whatever he is, I just like it when you bite Mr Horroh,” Metofeaz throws a bit of himself into the mix to keep Tone engaged and hopefully forget about his observation. “I always maintain Tone, that if you followed protocol, you have the makings of a Poet Soldier. I honestly believe that champ….”

“You do?”

“Yes I do Tone, whole heartedly….”

While Metofeaz has Tone’s undivided attention he figures it’s the ideal time to delegate some of the work that needs doing on one of their other projects. He pulls a photograph out of his jacket and studies that before he advises Tone of what needs doing.

“He was one of Pablo Escobar’s generals. Recently, the former engineer, who worked for an energy company in South America, linked up with the Mexicans, and is now fast becoming a key player in one of the cartels vying for control. He’s in town to sure up an east coast connection for his people. I want you to make our presence felt…Let him know we’re still around post Pablo.” Metofeaz passes Tone the 5 x 8 photograph which Tone looks at with a mocking expression.

“Would you prefer that I scare him? Or do you want me to flatter him?”

“Stick to what you know Tone,” Metofeaz has a grin which quickly turns into laughter that lets Tone know he was only kidding. “I want you to do both, with some pizazz. Budget for this one is limited so pizazz might end up being pizzas and beer.…”

CHAPTER FOURTEEN

PART 1

Following a sleepless night, Lazoo looks worse for wear. Seeing Genisis in the Auditorium alone with Clarenta, and the manner in which he found out about Ms Jones’ appointment as therapist at MMESOL, shocked Lazoo.

He waits across the street from SIL HOUSE Café, another one of the locations that he’s wired with cameras for reasons that no longer make any sense to Lazoo.

Down the street the yellow cab pulls into a park, and then Metofeaz who Lazoo still believes he can trust hops out, not that Lazoo has many options available to him. Today Metofeaz looks fresh and unbothered, somewhat of a role reversal of three weeks ago.

Lazoo waits for Metofeaz carrying a brief case, to reach the doorway then he crosses the street catching Metofeaz’s attention who holds the door open for Lazoo to enter into the café.

A Christmas carol is a stinging reminder for Lazoo of what could’ve been with Genisis. For Lazoo, life up till now consisted of nothing but sorrow, which meant most travesties for a so called normal person, barring the loss of loved one, was nothing out of the ordinary for Lazoo. But what had transpired in the past twenty four hours registered as traumatic for the guy who spent almost half his life behind bars, in various institutions and prison.

“Find a table,” Metofeaz says to Lazoo standing in the middle of the packed café before Metofeaz heads for the counter, where Simon Campbell waits with two menus. Lazoo takes a while to do the simple task of spotting an empty table down the back of the place he designed the interior of.

Seated facing the corner in the only blind spot from the three cameras in the café, Lazoo, who at the time he agreed to meet with Metofeaz, felt he had options and meeting with Litigatti was more of dabble or dally with someone who might come in handy in a few weeks’ time for the climax of the pantomime. Genisis’ decision to work for Clarenta, a move she made behind Lazoo’s back, hurt like nothing Lazoo can recall. It forces Lazoo’s hand to do something decisive and quickly.

“Don’t sweat the small stuff,” Metofeaz plonks himself on the other side of the table. Lazoo decides he’s here to listen to what Litigatti has to say. Metofeaz reaches down by his side with one hand as he keeps an eye on Lazoo and picks up the brief case which he places on the table.

“Little Lazoo has outgrown, Orders to behave and to bathe, He now stands up past my navel….” Metofeaz’s smile becomes a blur to Lazoo. The words he just spoke, Lazoo hadn’t heard in close to twenty years, yet when Metofeaz spoke them, not for a second did Lazoo wonder where he had heard them before.

“That’s all I can remember, I’m sorry,” Metofeaz’s hides behind the lid of the brief case he’s opened as he looks for something inside.

The lid closes, and the brief case slides off the side of the table and in slides a knapsack, his mother’s. “Open it.” Lazoo remains still. He’d already seen and heard enough from his past to last him a lifetime.

“Go on open it,” Metofeaz pushes Lazoo, who is well aware that this isn’t part of some thoughtful act.

Under the table, Lazoo stretches his fingers. He sits up straight so his right leg with the revolver strapped to the outside of it is adjacent to where his right arm hangs, so it’s only a matter of an undetectable lazy drop of the shoulder, for him to grab the piece.

“In all honesty, I’m quite offended that you didn’t accept this for what it is.” Metofeaz words flounder in Lazoo’s apathetic gaze, which never changes, even when Lazoo suddenly gets up, swipes the knapsack off the table and leaves the café without saying a word.

PART 2

A lazy Saturday without Lazoo around, is anything but. Genisis passes time on the couch, watching DVDs she pauses to study one of the numerous text messages on her phone from Lazoo. They started flooding her inbox yesterday afternoon, even before Genisis had reached the front door of the Compound.

At first, from Genisis’ viewpoint, the flurry of message’s amounted to nothing more than an aberration of concern, fuelled by possessiveness due to a grave fear of abandonment brought on by Genisis’ appearance at the Compound without Lazoo’s say so. Then the sheer volume and the length of some of the messages begin to make her smile. A smile, that soon fades, when Genisis considers her situation. This kind drama is the kind you read about in the papers and ridicule on the evening news. It’s definitely not the sort of situation a well-adjusted member of society finds themselves in, not to mention that, it was of her own volition, which Genisis ended up in the Compound agreeing to a role which can be misconstrued as a Madame in the end. Genisis has already imagined the worst, with a fairy tale ending that becomes grim the more she obsesses over it.

Genisis dials Lazoo’s number. She pulls her hair back behind her ear and waits for him to pick up, which happens almost immediately, only to be followed by silence.

“Hello?” Genisis asks, as reasons for Lazoo’s behaviour begin to race through her mind. Number one her appointment at MMESOL, which sooner or later she was going to have to explain to him. The sudden click followed by the disengaged signal is self-explanatory.

PART 3

“Okay Cleopatra baby, I want you to type in lower case N-E-T-S-T-A-T….” Le Mac’s dulcet tones walk Ali Lévon at the Compound through the steps she must take, if he’s to make good on his promise of getting her into Sean John Coombes AKA Puff Daddy’s private gig at Club INC next week….

Le Mac brings up on the visual monitors in the studio, the last of the feeds from Lazoo’s cameras, which the IP addresses for were in sequential blocks which Le Mac guessed from knowing the IP addresses for the relays between each of the locations. It helped that Lazoo hadn’t implemented a firewall for each site, it was either an oversight or it was planned that way, for whatever reason.

“Fire crackers!” Tone in the producer’s chair begins to clap, as the door opens.

“Wow,” Metofeaz enters the booth where the live streaming footage is a gush of information, and a sight for sore eyes. The opaque reflection of the images in the booth’s window is as vivid for Metofeaz as the bit moving characters, in the screens. In each monitor there are six boxes, three across and two down. There’s Clarenta who goes by the name Hariss Clariss now for his role as Judge in Lazoo’s pantomime, Jack Shack, Gene the Shark, Tait Stevonsen, Mike Haze, Ali Lévon who gets up from a computer in the heart of the compound and Lazoo in his white room who dominates the screen, lampooning as themselves for Metofeaz’s viewing pleasure.

“Where’s the sound?” Metofeaz is impatient.

“Here it is,” Tone uses the padded edges of the desk to pull himself in as he pushes the faders up for a jumble of voices and atmospheric noise to create the sweetest calamity Metofeaz could imagine.

“Are you recording this?” Metofeaz looks at Tone who looks at Le Mac. “On tape and on disc. Using latest IBM technology. Shit’ll be there, in the afterlife…” Le Mac points to the cabinet against the wall with a tinted glass door, behind it, flashing lights that sparkle.

“Now all we need is the plot,” Metofeaz begins to pace, as Tone brings up another channel with music on it….

CHAPTER FIFTEEN

PART 1

The bottom bar at New York’s Hilton is one of those places Lazoo no longer likes to frequent. It holds memories for Lazoo, not the kind he wishes to remember.

Lazoo shakes Zarrah Keller’s hand, the Bureau’s top profiler, who has wanted to meet Lazoo for quite some time—her reason for wanting to meet him have become clear since Lazoo’s latest meeting with Metofeaz.

“I’m sorry, mind’s elsewhere,” Lazoo makes an excuse for his on edge behaviour as he lights up a cigarette.

“You were doing so well,” Zarrah who reminds one of agent Scully from the X-Files makes Lazoo feel worse.

He immediately stubs the cigarette out in the ashtray and reaches for the bottle of Evian next to it.

“You mean the smoking, or getting mixed up with Clarenta?”

“Harry, and then the smoking, if it makes you feel better. You see, I hardly know you. All I know is you did a lot of people a favour as James Elton while you were inside. None more grateful than the people I work for.”

Lazoo smiles as another door closes. In his mother’s knapsack which Metofeaz gave him, amongst photos of him and Janine and ones of his grandmother were documents, detailed reports on his work as an assassin behind bars. If someone had told him that each one of his scalps, all eight of them, had made it onto the FBI’s most wanted list, Lazoo would’ve asked for more than cartons of cigarettes and freedom behind the walls of a jail for the hits he did as a matter of survival.

Ms Keller had made approaches via Lazoo’s parole officer to meet with Lazoo on his release. But being the subject of research by the FBI didn’t quite appeal to Lazoo at the time.

“Obviously now, any information from the profiling I do on you, if you wish to progress, that is, will be admissible in any case to do with events following your release from prison….”

“I always thought you were interested in the profile of someone who never had the chance. Someone destined for a dim view of life?” Lazoo appears almost inconsolable.

“What if I were a part of the Network?” Lazoo smiles for effect, as he sounds out the response on one side of the fence if he were to consider a major career move.

“There are only two types of men in this world that might be excused for asking a sworn officer of law that question, James—the most powerful and the most naïve.”

Lazoo checks his watch as Zarrah waits for him to shake her hand, obviously done with their meeting.

Out on the street, Lazoo tufts the collars of his coat. Christmas day is closer than ever. Only seventeen days in which to decide how his life will play out beyond this. The faint promise of snow in the air, and molasses are enough to warm Lazoo’s heart and remind him of one of the few Christmases he and Janine had together.

“I saw mommy kissing Santa Claus / Underneath the misletoe last night…” Someone wearing a Walkman passes by and another reminder escapes to fortify Lazoo’s resolve. Since the end of his parole, Lazoo’s memories of his mother were mostly explicit and autobiographical due to the way they stood out from the rest of his life. Since meeting Genisis they had become more frequent, and then he met Metofeaz…..

PART 2

The view from behind the desk, suggests the office is unfinished. Or, was the demure space in which one instantly exhales once they escape the shameless precociousness of the parlour, another one of Lazoo’s subtle touches?

Genisis shifts the mouse for the computer screen to come on. The wall of monitors with coverage of what’s happening out there in Lazoo’s world is a bedlam even with the volume turned down. She didn’t let it be known at the Compound she recognised one or two faces on screen. Jack Shack one of the DA’s anti-corruption team looks at home in the collage that resembles the cast from a Hollywood movie about lowlifes. And Gene “Attorney at Law” appears himself in comparison to his inescapable late night TV ads.

Genisis had wondered since turning up at the Compound where within her normally ordered life, she would access the fiery passion for what lays ahead of her? It wasn’t a crime, in that she had convinced herself already that the endeavour was worthy of her qualifications and at first she romanticised the whole thing with the idea that she would be working alongside Lazoo, who built a quality workplace for women who’d otherwise be working on the streets, slave to some unsavoury pimp. That’s when she fleetingly entertained his proposition of becoming someone who could offer support to the girls. An imprudent reaction from Genisis following the visit from Metofeaz during which he somehow managed to link Lazoo’s plight “caught in the crossfire” and her work with John Page to set Genisis’ on her way.

On screen the menacing melange of men she can only imagine what their combined value would be to Clarenta, and not Lazoo for his pantomime, gives Genisis another angle to ponder as she looks for further meaning in what she’s about to embark upon.

A friendly blue MSN Messenger pops up “Hi!” It’s from jamesneedsu@hotmail.com. Genisis figures it must be for Lazoo, and is loathed to think that she’d be the type of girlfriend that would snoop around on her boyfriend’s computer. Then another notification arrives, “Lazoo needs u Genisis… - tru story, the Pirate :)”

All of a sudden the meandering thoughts take a sharp turn up determined alley as Genisis finds purpose vil on the map of her uneasy mind. The purpose was always Lazoo, and now she could at least count on someone having a plan which has a satellite view of all landmarks, artefacts and sentiments caught in this unnerving mire.

Genisis sees that Lazoo has a timer counting down to Christmas. It says that in 16 days, 4 hours, 39 minutes and 40 seconds from now, “There’s only one place in this world I wish to be.” Genisis wishes that he’d walk through the door, and announce to her that this whole thing was charade or some souped-up edition of candid camera. Next to the widget of a clock, is “Today’s Christmas carol,” one that reminds her of home. She thinks about clicking on the link to Amy Winehouse singing “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus.” Then the pointer begins to move across the screen on its own….

“I saw mommy kissing Santa Claus / Underneath the misletoe last night…”

PART 3

Jack Shack stands behind the table. His evidence piled high is one of his props. He looks to his left where Gene in a grey suit lounges with props of his own, a pad a pen on the table and Lazoo in a black suit and tie whom Gene faces his back to.

Facing them high enough up on a judge’s bench crafted especially for the occasion is Hariss Clariss. Somehow the magistrate’s wig looks ridiculously fitting on Clarenta.

To his right a jury box, with twelve characters in costume whose make up are the only tell-tale signs that they’re there to act out a part.

Seated in front of the bench behind the imaginary bar, is Cleopatra filing her nails.

Smaller windows of the gallery filled of able jurors and possible witnesses who cheer or jeer on the cast, line the bottom of the monitor.

“Pause it there and zoom in on that,” Metofeaz points at somewhere on the screen, which Tone points at for clarification.

“No, the blue thing,”

In the corner Le Mac lowers the top corner of his paper to see what’s going on. “That’s Tivoli brother, you drive Ms Jones to do what you will, remotely… maximise the session at the bottom of the screen on the bar, and close down all the emulator sessions for video, gives a smoother experience.”

Soon, Tone has up on the screen, supposedly, what Genisis inside the office at the brothel can see.

“Shiver me timbers, son of a bitch,” Metofeaz moves to the side and points at the notification on screen with the message from his kid brother John Page to Genisis.

Metofeaz’s excitement is obvious, that he reaches for the mouse and clicks on the link to Today’s Christmas carol.

“Now how the mother of Mary are you going to explain that to Genisis? Poor girl all alone in the Bordello, must be thinking craziness!” Tone sounds concerned about what Metofeaz just did. “And that’s the reason why God never enrolled you in a computer course Metofeaz,” Tone carries on, in the end he raises his hands in frustration. On screen grainy footage of Ms Amy Winehouse delivers memories sealed in her unforgettable voice….

“She thought that I was tucked up / In my bedroom fast asleep…”

CHAPTER SIXTEEN

“Roxanne, Roxanne”

PART 1

Lazoo lassoes the atmos for the waitresses of Club INC to bring more champagne for the troupe who line the bar. Gene, Shack, Haze and Afra combined, their contribution has been substantial, earning Lazoo a healthy bonus.

On stage, Pras moves into position. Centre stage, Sting adjusts his mic stand as he shares a joke with Sean John Coombes, the ticket, behind the desk at one end of the stage in the intimate club beneath the beaten New York pavement.

A young Kobe Bryant, Magic Johnshon, and Lakers, are here after an emphatic win over the Knicks. A few more famous faces and Lazoo is a bit starry eyed. He looks into the bottom of his glass, as in the corner next to him, Mike Haze guides a blade in front of Lazoo’s face. On it, white powder, “for clarity, take one of these.” Haze doesn’t need to offer twice as Lazoo steadies the blade by holding Haze’s wrist while he consumes the nose candy in one glancing move of his head from right to left. Then he keeps his head bowed for what seems like an eternity as Haze, with Afra looking over his shoulder wait for Lazoo’s feedback. “See I told Lazoo would know it was feet powder, brother has athlete foot, uses that shit all day, every day,” Lazoo’s head remains bowed as he now tries his best stop himself from cracking up. The waitress arriving with drinks saves Lazoo, who’s red-faced when he comes up for air. Taking champagne he empties it in a flash to wash down any signs of amusement or chance of a connection developing between him and the rest of the cast.

Lazoo looks down the bar and along the faces of his crew, and figures that one or two more glasses will put him in the right frame of mind to deal with being in such close proximity of these people in a social setting. Other than tonight, it had been a breeze. There was enough animosity between him and them so for most of the time it was deemed preferred silence rather than awkward. Behind the scenes there was very little buy in or interest in the play, so there was little debate when it came to direction. But somehow when it came to perform the work in progress for Clarenta, it all came together. And it wasn’t to do with trying to impress Clarenta. Lazoo’s theory was, that the extra-curricular activity or the “business” allowed each of the cast to express themselves at the highest level possible, thus fulfilling their potential, and the play was merely a way of thanking Clarenta, and to a certain extent Lazoo for giving each one of them the opportunity show off their God given talents.

Lazoo soon finds his mind losing its way again, which of late, a shot of liquor has been able to recalibrate. He dares himself to let the damned subjective free fall. This is what martyrdom must be like Lazoo concluded. He was advocating a merger of two lives, that neither time nor space could exterminate. In short, Genisis Jones was the best excuse he had found to leave his existence up until now behind….

PART 2

Genisis waits for the last of the girls to exit the Hummer Limos. The sight, of thirsty stunning, smart and industrious women lined along the pavement stops passers-by.

“Recreation and relaxation, is not an opportunity to make a little on the side. This is a marketing exercise as much as it is a bonding session, ladies.”

Genisis found it easier to talk to the women for them to respond, in language and in terms they understood. It took less than two days for Genisis to accept that no one method or approach was going to work. And any transition had to happen on the job. So she went to their level, or at least she was making an attempt. Her outfit shows off Genisis, without competing with them.

For moment she forgets the girls are there, she looks down into the club through the windows. She’d heard talk around the salon that Lazoo would be here tonight. He hadn’t shown up to work at the Salon for two days now, and apart from a txt message there had been no other communication from him…..

Downstairs, bass oscillates vibrations, tight connections and the foundations of the club. Player people and normally covert people become overt beneath the dwelling spell sent from the stage. On there, Gordon Matthew Thomas Sumner AKA Sting sheds himself, “Roooooooxanne….” And the crowd erupts. Puff Daddy reaffirms ordinance “Yeah ye ye yeah yeah Sting.” Sting comes again for Praz to add the ’97 narrative, “shake what ya mama gave you is her motto….”

Genisis finds her way to the bar before the classic remix becomes weepy and moving for her. The song was appropriate and she knew it. She could feel the coloured lights on her skin, and they felt different from lights on other nights. She felt in control for once as she finds a space at the bar. She had been ready for it, but avoiding it for as long as she could, probably because deep down she knew that once they laid eyes on each other that would be it. “I wanna dance to this. Truth is, I want to see you dance to this in that dress….” She heard his voice before she laid eyes on him. And it wasn’t till sometime later that she got to look into his eyes, as she follows him as he leads her through crowd holding her hand….

PART 3

Metofeaz passes through the kitchen of Club INC. He nods to people who may recognise him as Feeaz Fontain the MADMAN who lost it all before it even began for him, on Black Monday or the ’87 stock market crash. The anomalies of his story bothered Litigatti, since he was recruited in the early ‘80s as a teenager, and someone who knew Jellybean Benitez who grew up just blocks away from where Litigatti grew up. DJ Jellybean was one of the first people to witness the power of Madonna.

Metofeaz spots Le Mac down the end of the kitchen and looks for Tone who appears from nowhere, “come on, I’m beginning to smell like a dish in this place.” His attempt at humour is a good sign. Metofeaz had agreed for him to bring the guy from the cartel here. It was one way of ensuring that there is minimal bloodshed.

“Plan’s a doozey…” Tone wants to share with Metofeaz. “La la la, can’t hear, don’t want to….” It’s Metofeaz’s way of letting Tone know, that he trusts him without having to give away any of his power.

Instead Metofeaz talks to Le Mac, “if there’s so much as knick on the that motherfucker, I’ll have him assigned to chasing crack dealers….”

Out on the street, John Page sees last of the procession of the women disappear downstairs. Down there was all the family he had in the world. Metofeaz, like a brother, they had grown up together under the care of Jon Pierre Solomon. And then the character they called Lazoo. It was just like his kid brother (by minutes) to claim that he was Little Lazoo, not that Page had gotten to play with his fraternal twin as they were separated at birth. James went with mommy and Johnny got left behind at the orphanage. He was still coming to terms with the backstory which Metofeaz had shared with Page over the last week. As far as Page was concerned, Jon Pierre took him and Metofeaz in from the orphanage and that was it. Page decides it was time to head downstairs and meet his only living blood relative.

Inside, before Page reaches the bottom of the stairs he spots Lazoo on the dance floor as the guy dancing with Genisis who’s definitely changed, for the better. Metofeaz is straight ahead on the opposite side of the bar in his favourite corner, around him several women, he ignores. Half way between the bar and dancefloor, Tone Horroh has some poor lass in a trance while he’s watching the guy from the Mexican cartel. And then there’s Le Mac talking with Bryant and Magic, as Le Mac watches out for Tone. All this, to Puff Daddy, Sting and Praz on stage. Page takes one step back up the stairs as he takes note of who the other agents are in the house due to the presence of one of Pablo’s former generals.

“Shake what ya mama gave you is her motto….”

“Actually I was an interpreter before I became a dishwasher. That was after I was an errand boy for haberdashery store, you know one of those places that smell like moth balls…” Tone stops midsentence as one of the gorillas keeping his target company, heads for the bathroom. Tone takes the hand of the woman, who’s beside herself and holds it, “duty calls. I mean nature. Nature, duty, number ones and twos, who knows? One’s easy, the other…you get the sordid truth.” And then Tone moves quickly through the crowd. As gorilla one enters through the first door. Seconds later, the target followed by the second goon makes his way to the bathroom. Inside the well-lit corridor there’s another door. One that swings both ways which moves as someone on the other side pushes it. Tone takes a couple of strides and is close enough to the door to throw a short palm jab from the hip aimed at the copper plate on the door which sends the door back at a rate. The door hits something and Tone pushes the door further as behind him the door from the club opens.

Out in the club, Le Mac heads off a patron as they’re about to enter the door to the bathrooms, he slips a dollar bill into the confused person’s hand who holds it up to their face and then he smiles. “Don’t let anyone in?” Le Mac asks and the patron nods his head agreeing.

Inside the corridor, the target, in his thirties with not much to him pushes open the second door as Le Mac enters from the club which gets the second gorilla’s attention. Le Mac looks beyond him at what’s happening behind him, which the noise is enough for the cumbersome person to turn and look. Le Mac’s side kick to side of the man’s knee brings him down. Through the second door, Le Mac can see the body of the first body guard, laying still, on the ground, and in front of it the target on his knees with his hands held behind his head, and Tone standing in front of the door next to the man.

Le Mac looks down and away from Tone at the body in agony in front of him. “Best you not rile Tone Horroh up with that whimpering, in case he can’t handle that level of emotion at this here time,” Le Mac decides to fuck with the goon at his feet, who looks German and not the type that would normally look up to a black fella.

Tone’s message was quick and concise. The next time Le Mac looked down the other end, Tone had opened up the back of the target’s suit with his blade and you could see that the man was wearing a bullet proof vest. Le Mac looks for blood, but there is none, which is a relief.

“Tell your bosses, this message is from the grave. A grave one you should’ve learnt from the Pablo experience….”

Out in the club, “Roxanne, / You don’t have to wear that dress tonight”

CHAPTER SEVENTEEN

WARNING: R18 – Contains Adult Content

PART 1

Like a thief in the night, Lazoo grabs all that he can, as he continues to possess Genisis’ body into the dawn. It had been an orbit since he last tasted her skin, and held her. His preferred way, was to have his arm around the small of her back as she straddled him. It allowed her to let herself fall backwards in selfish bliss, or cling to him for shared ecstasy. He had memorised her curves that made him weak, and savoured her breathe right before she came as he clung to her. But holding her in his arms as her body sweetened, each time surpassing the time before, was incomparable to any high he had experienced.

“Fuck me!” Genisis gasps. Lazoo tightens his grip on her waist, as he thrusts upwards to meet her eager and concentrating body. His tongue lashes her swollen nipple, only to remember there’s more of her, just as deserving and as jealous for his mouth. For selfish purposes he indulges in her body when with his other hand he finds a place below she responds to but wouldn’t admit to it, as he looks to make this one her best ever. Looking up at her as she surrenders to fall for once and fall all, he cannot remember an aspiration so satisfying, yet so redeeming for him….

Lazoo stares at the ceiling, with his hands behind his head. Genisis sleeps on his chest. Out the corner of his eye, Lazoo can see the sunrise. “I love you,” he hears himself say.

PART 2

Lazoo, wearing only a lava-lava, tiptoes on shag-pile, as he carries a tray of what Genisis would want for in the morning after a night like last night. Fresh fruit diced, yoghurt, pastries he sent for, squeezed orange juice and plenty of percolated coffee. Lazoo inhales the aroma of coffee and the sweet scent of pineapple and pawpaw he called in favour to have the fresh produce delivered to his room within an hour from across town. He counts down to when the music will kick in as he rounds the corner and comes to the bedroom, where he stops and does a little jig on the spot, followed by a shuffle before he enters to the amative acoustic intro to Feliz Navidad by Michael Bublé and Thalia.

Genisis opens her eyes, the music is sweet, and the aroma of coffee is prevalent. Too happy to think, the smile on her face could be permanent, if she could just find where Lazoo was. For now the music will suffice till she can bare to leave this place.

“A donde sea que yo este / tu corazon alcanzar / y una sonrisa en tu mirada pintar / no habra distancia entre los dos / al viento volar mi voz / con mis deseos a tu alma llegar…”

PART 3

In traffic, Metofeaz turns up the music, compliments of Jose Feliciano, “Feliz Navidad.” Next to him in the passenger’s seat, is Page who appears as grateful as he is, to be in the company of family. In front of them, a New York street lined with traffic. On either side of them, people on the sidewalk making their way home to their families and Christmas trees at dusk. The whole scene seems to have hue of decency to it.

“So, you given the James scenario much thought?” Metofeaz tries his best to sound nonchalant.

“I live a double life now, hell, what can one more possibly do to me?” Page doesn’t want to sound like he’s in denial.

“Right now, it’s totally theoretic based on file from Ammer. However, I’ve had the lab check the photo of the oldman and Lazoo’s grandmother, and it’s kosher for a Sunday lunch.” Metofeaz looks in the rear vision mirror as he waits for Page’s response.

CHAPTER EIGHTEEN

PART 1

“Happy Valentine's Day / Every day the 14th!”

Lazoo steps down the avenue to a different tune today. Outkasts André 3000 and Antwan "Big Boi" Patton furnish the atmos with a boom kick, that has just the right amount of attack that phases for a tick then it’s rereleased. Tweening hand claps, an offbeat guitar, and then a hi hat and shaker shut the gate on the opiate loop. Time spent with Genisis, left Lazoo in a calmative state, as he makes his way to rehearsals, which is at Gene’s pad today.

Lazoo exits the elevator and makes his way down the hallway. Outside Gene’s door, reality catches up with him as he goes to knock. He pauses as tries to clear his mind of the last two nights, so he can be who he has to be, now that Genisis was caught up in this tragic state of affairs. Being with her again had been a balancing act for Lazoo. He didn’t have to act when it came to how much he had missed her, but he found himself having to modify his thoughts and body language when it came to her working for Clarenta. Thankfully they were able to avoid to topic for most of the time. And when it did come up, he was able to be diplomatic if not business-like about the precarious predicament he feels totally responsible for.

The door opens without Lazoo having knocked. It wakes him from his thoughts.

“We thought we’d get started,” Gene whose sincerity can be measured in a matter of grams or an ounce is overeager for Lazoo to respond. Instantly, it pushes Lazoo to where he prefers to be for the sake of getting the job done. Lazoo sees inside the room that everyone is present, minus Clarenta. They all had their scripts in hand. If this was a mutiny in progress, they’d get his vote too. But this was different. The straight postures and smart looks on faces, normally twitchy with docile wishes that he’d die, pointed to a united front that had already relieved him of his duties and were now watching him walk the plank as he stepped inside the room.

PART 2

“I had my first sexual encounter at the age of thirteen…. He was my best friend’s father….” Genisis jots down her notes on the young woman whose file says she’s twenty one but the lines around her eyes tell a different tale.

“Is he one of the Johns you associate your clientele with?” Genisis notes the woman’s body language as she waits for her to respond.

“I never actually thought of like that to be honest, but I kinda do….” Genisis offers the girl a smile as a thank you for opening up to her, on their first session.

Genisis glances at the monitor to see what of the interview is being shown at the Compound. It takes her attention away from her job. Gene, Shack and the other sleaze balls at the compound where they watch her at work had started their usual maligning session in which they offer their thoughts about “What Lazoo would do?” It was a game Lazoo himself had initiated in which each one of them had the chance to be him, dictating what Lazoo would do in any given situation, allowing them to live vicariously in the theoretic as Lazoo with absolutely no accountability for the smut they came up with, all of it in the “guise of Lazoo.” At first, it was a strategic game based on Lazoo’s movements throughout the day, caught on camera. The antagonistic panel would try to predict what Lazoo would do next. It didn’t take long for the likes of Gene to impose his seedy preferences on proceedings.

“Thanks for making the time to see me….” The door shuts.

Out of a deep dislike for the cast that surround Lazoo, Genisis brings up the window with what’s happening at the compound. To Genisis, playing the video feed loud made her feel like she was exposing what was going on by airing it, but to whom? She looks around the office, as Gene’s voice through the computer speakers on the desk makes her skin crawl.

“Do you want me to give you my thoughts on what Lazoo would do with the little lady we just met in the interview, as she is today? Or?” His trashy grin punctuates and then it exclaims what his next sordid thought might’ve been.

Genisis exits the window and quickly tidies her desk before she sends Lazoo a txt to see if he’s keen on dinner at her place tonight….

PART 3

Friday afternoon in Tribeca is a zoetic cornucopia of creativity with news that Lazoo will be meeting Genisis at SIL HOUSE Café around four p.m. Creativity! It’s the single differentiator that sets a Network operative aside from other proxies in the clandestine game. The ability to manipulate circumstances by a mere act, one word, maybe two or three words so as to achieve what must be a benevolent outcome.

The Pirate, a lean thinker with concise but seamless moves that flow throughout most of the Network’s projects internationally is one of those guys who can see from a mile off, you and your forlorn clutter you drag behind you, leaving a miserable trail. He sits under the arced logo of SIL HOUSE Café listening to the misfiring and stuttering by people around him who for whatever reason feel as if they need to be heard. He can put it down to one thing, everyone in town wanted to be in on Lazoo’s game. He couldn’t believe it. On duty and off duty cops, law students, socialites, he didn’t mind the actors and actresses, especially the real ones who studied the art, they actually sounded like the real people who had lost themselves in Lazoo’s racket.

Word on the street was Lazoo’s GAME now had an effect on the markets, and could invigorate the pointers. Lazoo could bring to life a session with a last minute rally by simply turning up on a street corner with his show. The theories on how an ex-crim who could barely read or write was able to provide impetus for such complex mechanics which drive a system so vast and sensitive vary. The most logical explanation, if at all there’s a connection, is the optimism derived from seeing someone as handicapped as he is by his upbringing provide inspiration to people of all backgrounds. It was a classic phenomenon. It was what the American dream, another name given to Lazoo’s show, the “New American Dream,” was based on.

Music from above fills the café and by the looks of things outside the window, the street aswell. Page can’t help but let a wry smile permeate the private domain he keeps, as he gets ready to witness what he had seen footage of on the internet and now he was going to experience first-hand. “Emotions” classic 70s R&B by the Flowers, sweet and uplifting grips the people inside and outside the café like a public announcement, only, Lazoo’s is fantastical with a promise of the whimsical and not something the people would dread. Women, who idolise Genisis, in their heels and dresses bought for the occasion, make their way for the door while some would rather save their seats to be next to her, when she and Lazoo look into each other’s eyes. Guys, who by default detest Lazoo and his magic, but still dress like him in hope of finding his magnetism get up slowly and follow the women who lead the charge.

It isn’t the best angle in the world but Page can see down the street to where it’s full of people facing this way, ready to march it seems. Standing in front of the mob is Lazoo. Page’s first thought, from being able to feel the occasion, is, is this guy for real? From Page’s perspective, Lazoo appears to be a a cross between a megalomaniac and an evangelist without religion to blame the despotic strains that stain his act. Maybe it was just good ol’ fashion sibling rivalry at play? The only other person Page had met who shared the same kind of charisma was the Pacifican, but he was less forthcoming than Lazoo, preferring to cast his spell on the operatives, empowering them to go out and influence outcomes. From what Page could remember, Jon Pierre was of the same elk, but he was past his prime when he adopted Page and Metofeaz which Page was thankful for, for he got to spend time with the old man. Could it be that, Page was watching the next Poet Soldier in action? When they were kids, Metofeaz, was heir apparent but the outright responsibility that comes with the job, didn’t interest Metofeaz. Plus too many people feared that someone who had served in the military with distinction like Metofeaz, working on the underside would be too much of a threat. Maybe that’s why Metofeaz passed up on the position of the Network’s Mastermind? Page quickly reminds himself that Lazoo hadn’t yet agreed to terms, even though the enigmatic genius had already hinted to a reliable source that he might be interested in lending his talents to the cause.

Busy trying to see what’s going on down the street, Page doesn’t notice when Genisis arrives outside the window. It’s only when the crowd from the opposite end of the street fold in on his peripheral vision that he looks to see the “chick,” his name for his female friends, smile at him. Genisis, if you didn’t know her, you’d think she was Danish, Swedish, or Californian with an education. Page first met her when she was a teenager, the same age as he was only without the scars. Maybe he thought of her as being out of his league, or that he didn’t have the table manners to make it happen? But the thought of anything other than friendship never crossed his mind. Seeing her now, tangled up in this mess highlighted another side to the person he feels responsible for, after more or less recruiting her as an associate when Genisis was as a teenager. It was the reason why he came to New York, a place which holds very few fond memories for Page. Watching from afar and being updated by Metofeaz on what was actually happening behind the scenes, Page had no choice once Genisis of her own choice, decided to enter into the dungeons of the game as it were.

Page considers the dynamics at play and the flux that will append itself to an already delicate situation which the hordes of fans have no idea about.

Page nods at Genisis, without giving away anything. Then he looks down the street where Lazoo the showman begins his approach.

“Love is a flower / Let it shine on through….”

The sight of Lazoo and the mob that moves with him in time to the music, is like something from days of old. The sheer pull from the passion he is able to emote when he sees Genisis standing in front of the café, has a cynic like Page concerned. You can hear the sighs from the women and feel the sideward glances from the men in the crowd. The fervour intensifies as Genisis, moves from next to the window, gravitating towards Lazoo who is in line with the front door of the café by now.

He has a look on his face that has inspired magazine articles, songs and even movies. A look that without the woman who walks up to him, out in front of everyone, it would be aimless and meaningless….

“Oh, you know where it's coming from / God is watching you, oh, yes, He is…” The song goes.

CHAPTER NINETEEN

PART 1

Lazoo always accepted calamity’s call as a necessity to balance the ledger. His suspicions of mutiny yesterday were vindicated by the news, on T.V. Next to him, lying on her side looking at him with the same blank expression for the past two hours is Genisis. Every phone in the apartment was ringing—it had been that way since six this morning.

Lazoo doesn’t cling to anything other than the woman who reaches out to him, who he feels for, having introduced her to this misfortune. However, he still hopes there’s a possibility that the story of seven men murdered overnight, for which he has been linked with, is a masterstroke by Clarenta and the cast, designed to teach Lazoo a lesson and not reality imitating art.

Lazoo decides to pick up a call. It’s Gene, “It’s all under control. You hand yourself into me. We’ll go through the proceedings i.e. the arraignment and you’ll make bail, no questions asked. No objection from the DA due to your profile blah, blah, blah. We’ve got a PR company and a crack team of investigators who will get the case thrown out within the week, when they discover that Shugit is one sick puppy and suffers from a Dr Frankenstein syndrome kinda disorder. And by the way, as far as stunts are concerned, this is right up there Maestro! Nice work!”

Lazoo’s stomach begins to churn as he considers the forces that must be at play for something so dramatic but abhorrent to happen out in the open, only for Gene and Shack to capitalise on it like a marketing exercise for their careers. It sickens him. Even more distressing was how Gene was able to implicate him so easily, and then blame him for what Gene referred to as a stunt.

“Okay, I’ll see you at your office then,” Lazoo manages to say and then he hungs up.

When Lazoo was first told about the story minutes before it hit the streets it was overshadowed by meeting his twin for the first time. Maybe it was because Lazoo wanted to believe that it was part of some sick practical joke by the cast and not real.

Lazoo leaves the bed and makes a dash for the bathroom. Behind the closed door, the sound Lazoo expelling worry blends into the sound of chaos. On T.V. a pretty reporter in a tight fitting two piece suit, with a rather long slit up the back reports from outside gates of the Compound.

“This is one of Lazoo, who has taken our hearts and minds haunts. The city is still in shock about reports that the theatrical street producer who came to New York six years ago with enough money for a cup of coffee, might be the man that the police are looking for in connection for the heinous slaying of seven men….”

PART 2

Genisis like most people never factored in the probability of a disaster happening in their lives. The story on page five of the newspaper, that Genisis reads for the umpteenth time, a horrifying reminder of the odds someone in Lazoo’s line of business has of catching a bad break. Her phone rings again and it’s her mother, thankfully, and not one of media hounding her for her story.

“Come home Genisis,” was all she needed to hear…Genisis quickly straightens out the desk and collects a few items, and with that the curtain falls on her career as whatever the media were making of it, from Madame to high class whatever? It was going to make for interesting times at the dinner table this Christmas in twelve days from now.

PART 3

The piercing air of the wee hours sting Lazoo’s nostrils. His eyes water for that reason, and that reason alone. He looks away from the person he stands toe to toe with and up at the old architecture of the rundown part of Manhattan, the venue for a “very important meeting” according to Metofeaz when he called Lazoo, less than thirty minutes ago. Rusty and eroded stair cases that clang in the whistling wind, windows smashed by misery and then boarded up…not the ideal place to meet a long lost relative.

“This is operative Page,” Metofeaz proposes some sort of greeting between the two men of about the same build, height and demeanour. They acknowledged each other at the café yesterday afternoon, but this was their formal introduction. In an alley way, at three a.m., forced upon them, when Metofeaz got a tip off from a friend in the media of the news that was going to break later this morning. Lazoo stares at the person who’s meant to be his brother in the eye. He had Janine’s bone structure, but the look in his eyes is the same as the killers Lazoo had come face to face with inside, void of expression.

Lazoo hears the rustle of paper as Metofeaz standing like a referee next to them produces a copy of the morning paper. Lazoo can smell the ink already.

“It’s not good at all,” Metofeaz explains and then he goes on to read from the paper:

“Police this morning reported the morbid slaughter of seven men found dead in their exclusive Manhattan apartments with their tongues severed and replaced.

The allocation of considerable NYPD resources has led to a dramatically reduced list of possible suspects, according to Assistant District Attorney Jack Shack. Information from the tenants of the apartment building in which the bodies were found has helped police in tracking down the killer or killers.

Shack told a press conference that the nature of the crime has suggested to investigators that it was a crime of passion, adding that, “It appears to have been committed by someone who may well become a serial killer if the perpetrator or perpetrators are not identified and apprehended immediately”

Police would like to hear from anyone who has information on the whereabouts of Manhattan theatrical producer John James Lazoo."

CHAPTER TWENTY

PART 1

Lazoo thinks through the facts involved in the so-called stunt, to do with the bodies…The seven men Shugit played Dr Frankenstein on were supposedly all John Does whose bodies were picked up by the med school within hours of the bodies arriving at the morgue, which was sometime between four in the afternoon and seven on Friday evening, according to paperwork from the morgue. After playing God on the men, by decapitating their tongues and then swapping them, which according to Shugit on tape, “It’s a metaphor.” Then he transported the bodies to the apartment building where they were found. The detective in charge was a drunk and had been on gardening leave up till the week before. His report was signed at seven a.m., and the story was on the editor of paper’s desk no later than one a.m. for it to have made the early morning edition. This meant Shugit would’ve been a very busy sicko on Friday evening. The coroner’s final report from the autopsies placed the time of death of each of the men within the last forty-eight hours, which is the reason why the med school wanted these particular corpses. So, apart from some shoddy police paperwork, and a sick med student, there was no case to answer. That’s if Lazoo can overlook the glaring fact that, these men were not John Does. They were dressed like ones, from the photos taken in the morgue. But all of them had had a haircut within the past month. Two of them received manicures recently. One of them worked out. Each one would at least have someone who’d be wandering about their whereabouts.

Under a magnifying glass Lazoo can see dust that clings to some Vaseline type substance in the men’s hair in the photos. The dirt under trimmed finger nails was applied systematically and the grime from some kind of oil had the same smearing pattern where applied on all bodies….

PART 2

Her flagging fortunes that she drags with her as she walks from the bus stop, lighten as Genisis turns down her street. The Christmas essence that percolates somewhere, hopefully closer than the North Pole, leaks from a snowman in a neighbour’s yard.

“In the meadow we can build a snowman / Will pretend that he is Parson Brown / He'll say: Are you married? / We'll say: No man / But you can do the job / When you're in town…”

Genisis reaches her house, and there doesn’t seem to be anyone at home, which is a relief for her. Inside she upacks and then out of curiosity checks out what’s happening in New York on the internet. It’s something she had been meaning to do, but had never gotten around to it. Truth be known, she didn’t fancy the thought of seeing herself online.

Watching the GAME on the internet from outside New York was a totally different experience than being there. Admittedly Genisis was in the thick of it, and so it was like an everyday occurrence for her. But from afar, it resembled a multi-million dollar production. There were hundreds of uploads every minute about Lazoo and his whereabouts, and what he was up to, which the antagonistic panel then analysed till it bored everyone. A sound bite of what Lazoo said to someone would be published to bring the fans back. Scores of fan-fiction writers on dozens of websites that sprouted were also worthy of the time people spent on Lazoo. One particular writer who wrote under the initials JRA, was freakish in his ability to capture, what Lazoo and even Genisis were going through. His deep omniscient voice touching if not haunting, especially for Genisis as she reads his stuff online….

“What have I been up to?”

“Paraphrasing only works on your patients. For guys like me it’s an alarm bell that my woman is sorting through her responses, in which case, I’ll take the answer which has you wearing very little…” Lazoo seemed to be in good spirits as far as Genisis could tell.

“How was the meeting with Page?” Genisis hadn’t broached the topic of how she and Page met, and Lazoo wasn’t the type to pry. No doubt it will sort itself out.

“It went well. It’s still pretty hard to describe how I feel. You see this sort of thing on Oprah and when it happens to you, you’re in awe of how people cope with it. Don’t get me wrong it’s a great thing but it opens up a hollow inside from all those years apart, if you know what I mean? I suppose, I’ll get over the shock and make the most of it….”

PART 3

Page knocks on the door of Lazoo’s white room. The fact his place has a name screams of an over inflated sense of self. Hell he could’ve named it Lazoo’s cell as homage to his upbringing, but the white room? Does that make him, the little president?

The door opens and standing in the doorway is a kid, who Page could relate to. “Come in.” Lazoo’s voice in person has more than familiar ring to it. It’s a voice that could tell him to go jump in the lake and he probably would.

“So you going to come in, or should I bring you your plate to the door?” Lazoo finds it natural to mock him.

Lazoo walks away, as he considers the possibility that Page has a lump in his throat too.

Page had replayed the moment over and over again in his head since the meeting in the alley way, where he confirmed for himself that Lazoo was blood. He had that cool way about him that you practise in the mirror, and some guys just have. His work in New York whether Lazoo knew it or not, was the envy of every operative in the game. Lazoo was guilty by association, something Page never bothered to correct when Lazoo’s name came up in conversation with people in the field. As far as the eldest boy was concerned from the time Metofeaz broke the news that Lazoo and the Pirate were brothers, his twin was an operative, and not some trumped up street hustler.

“So this thing, you and the CIA have going, tell me about it.” Lazoo asks knowing fully well what the response will be from Page down the opposite end of the table.

“It’s a myth designed to keep everyone on their toes. Fact of the matter, we’re still gangsters and that’s all there is to it.” Page turns his food over on the plate, “did you make this?”

“So it’s a classic case of conspiracy theorists at work. So, tell me then how you make a living busting bad guys?” Lazoo persists.

“We don’t bust bad guys. We put them in their place, so this SystemSpectacular of ours can function with a degree of certainty. Tone Horroh, now and again gets to maul some paedo, but for the rest of us it’s about keeping the peace.” Page doesn’t mind Lazoo’s inquisitiveness about what he does, it shows he’s interested in the family business….

“What’s this?” Page redirects the attention from himself and what he does to the song playing.

“Frank Ocean, Lost” Lazoo considers what he should do with his theory on the John Does….

CHAPTER TWENTY-ONE

PART 1

Lazoo breathes out slowly, mindful of the many cameras present. At the top of the steps of the courthouse, Gene and Jack hold court, with Lazoo in the background, as a free man. As they had promised, within seven days the case was shut and an apology to Lazoo had been received via a letter from the chief of police. Lazoo had strongly rejected Gene’s constant offers to sue. Lazoo didn’t know whether Gene and Jack were so sure of what they were up to, because they had a bullet proof plan, or, whether they were just a couple of freewheeling opportunists busy seizing the moment.

Lazoo makes his way down the steps…microphones, dictaphones—ungracious and unforgiving—wave in his face waiting for cheap talk to sell. Uncivil people hide behind oversized cameras that capture your bad side from the single unflattering thought inside.

Beyond the illiterate multitude with no ideas of their own and their imitative apparatuses, fans line the pavement on both sides of the street, resolute in their support for Lazoo. Above this frayed fiasco ripe clouds with a tangerine tinge against an otherwise pristine sky remind Lazoo of clarity that he needs to see this through to the bitter end.

Frank Ocean demonstrates in the recurrent tune that stirs the atmos with melancholy hope a duality which Lazoo must accept in attaining peace, for himself and for those he was born to influence.

“….Couldn't weight the love I've got for the girl / And I just wanna know / Why you ain't been goin' to work / Boss ain't workin' you like this….”

PART 2

Chimes sound out the deep longing within Genisis, as she escapes another store that plays one of the songs that’s been haunting her over the past few days. Teasing and then tantalising when Genisis lets herself go in a daydream she still hasn’t given up all hope in attaining. Seeing Lazoo in a press conference on T.V a reminder of how serious this whole situation really was. Having Page there, even though she barely knew the guy, brought her some comfort.

The confusion in her when she tries to fathom the size of the ordeal Lazoo faces is crushing. She has to find a place where she can be alone. For now, it’s under a dome filled with someone else’s consciousness, her Walkman, where the mixtape Lazoo made for her smothers an unkind reality. Frank Ocean is vague, but his perception is contextually applicable to her circumstance.

“…He can't take care of you like this / Now you're lost / Lost in the heat of it all / Girl you know you're lost / Lost in the thrill of it all…”

Genisis muses the bittersweet taste of it all…like a tangerine shower on a desert island. The tears that track her anguish are salty as well, a dichotomy of just proportions she can somehow accept for Lazoo in return.

The doors of the mall open and Genisis escapes. Out in the fresh air, the light is different. There’s a celestial eminence about it—similar but not the same during an eclipse. The ethereal sky carries Genisis away from here…..

PART 3

Metofeaz slides a piece of paper along the table to in front of Hannibal Ammer. Next to Ammer is a number cruncher type character, in his fifties with spectacles through which he strains to see Metofeaz at a distance. Next to Metofeaz is Page. They’re here to plead Lazoo’s case. Ammer had decided that it was time up and that Metofeaz had wasted enough money and time in a dead end pursuit.

“So you’re here to convince me that the runt of the litter is actually worth saving?” Ammer’s words waste away as Metofeaz focuses on being able to deliver a solid argument for having Lazoo on his team.

“So, what’s the deal here? Clarenta goes into a witness protection program. Gene, Shack and the rest of the extras undergo counselling and what happens to Lazoo?” Metofeaz doesn’t quite nail it first time.

“Sign him up, and he’ll bring it home. That’s if you want it done?” Page is more direct.

“And if I don’t agree what….” Ammer is cut short when the accountant type person next to him places a hand on his arm. Ammer looks at the piece of paper with a list of names on it.

“It’s contingency only. Purely plan B type stuff,” Metofeaz tries to sound non-threatening this time about the list of supposed John Does that were involved in the so called stunt which Metofeaz and Page are sure Ammer with the help of Horroh are responsible for.

“The fact that you wasted precious paper on this futile attempt at blackmail, after all these years saddens me,” Ammer’s attempt to thwart their approach was muddled, and in it he admitted that information was sensitive.

For Metofeaz and Page, it was clutching straws but that’s where they were at.

“Take it or leave it. You take it and you’ll have the Christmas present you wanted, without the residue….” Metofeaz goes for the close.

Out on the street Metofeaz is still amped from his pitch, while Page quietly contemplates the rare looking sky. Traces of orange and purple patches that colour ones imagination emboss bold clouds that dare leave their place in a brilliant sky.

“Never seen a sky like this,” Page is quietly confident about the universe’s response to his request for help.

CHAPTER TWENTY-TWO

“Dancing With the Freaks”

PART 1

“Here comes one for the ladies / For the ones who love me…”

The walls of the Auditorium bulge as they pulsate from a delirium created by hysteria that runs wild throughout the compound, inside and outside. Behind the fortified walls, across the front lawn and around the back to the garden, a small rain forest, bodies gyrate to one of Pop’s true Maestros Georgios Kyriacos Panayiotou AKA George Michael.

Inside, down a corridor off the coliseum like Auditorium for which tickets to enter tonight was no less than fifteen hundred dollars to three hundred special guests, Lazoo sits staring at himself in the mirror of his dressing room…the ThinkPad, streams snippets from the party he’s the guest of honour for, Clarenta’s scheming has no limits. Over the past few days Harry’s mood had changed dramatically, from irate bitch to a weird chipper scary clown, more likely than not it was to do with the Network’s closing down its interest in him.

Ali Lévon, Cleopatra, had let it be known that Horroh and Clarenta had been in contact. She did it carefully which Lazoo appreciated, when she made it seem that she wasn’t aware Lazoo was in earshot when she told Clarenta, “The Rocky Horroh Show called for you…”

The countless realisations that had emerged over the past week were like a whirlpool, even for a mind like Lazoo’s. From finding out about his twin to details of Genisis’ involvement with the Network which go back over ten years, to understanding the difference in planning and over thinking a situation. None more evident, than his move to install cameras in all the locations he and the cast worked at. He hadn’t told anyone, but the idea behind the cameras was to make everyone conscious of what they said during their business, naturally countering any surveillance by the Network or agencies. The coded conversations between Gene, Shack and the rest of the cast were impossible to decipher as Lazoo chose a different cartoon episode each time, which they would use as a cloaking device for dealing with the day’s sordid activities. At the bottom of the whirlpool dragging Lazoo down, was his compelling interest in joining his brother in the Network, for no other reason other than working with Page, to make up for lost time it seemed. But for now, he had to work out a way to earn his stripes, since his cameras are responsible for the plug being pulled on the project he guesses. Close on two months of nothing for Metofeaz and his crew, justified Ammer’s closing down of the operation. As a career con-artist, it’s never about the role, and always about the score.

“LAZOO! LAZOO! LAZOO!” The commotion he can see on the screen of the ThinkPad and hear through the walls wakes Lazoo from a consciousness he will have to re-join later as he sees that out on the streets followers had gathered outside the gates.

PART 2

The aching chimes sensationalise a distant dream as Genisis rocks back and forth on a swing at the deserted playground her mother brought her to when Genisis was a child. In her lap a copy of the story thus far according to the sublime online scribe J.R.A, which Genisis had gone to the trouble of printing and then bounding it in a folder. His work was devilishly revealing. His annunciation of nuisances and the way he feathered heartache a blissful confession for Genisis. By his account, whoever he was, the blame for the current situation lay squarely at Lazoo’s feet, with her, Genisis as a willing accomplice.

The online textual serial published as the LATEST UPLOAD at www.etfiction.com is by far and away the best kept secret Genisis had discovered on the internet so far. In and amongst the litter of news and off-the-cuff information—useful, distasteful, astonishing, scary pop windows warning you of prize money and free porn there was this peaceful meadow made of words.

The “Novice” as he calls himself advocated social justice which he wrapped up in love stories. His latest, in which somehow he’s managed to find out information on Lazoo, and her, their lives and what’s happening, so accurate that it almost feels as that they’re part of a script he’s writing as Genisis reads his work.

His narrative had redeeming qualities for Genisis who by reading his story, it helped her escape the denial she lived in. An accessory to countless felonies which, Lazoo is the instigator—like or not—Genisis found J.R.A’s work to be therapeutic on so many levels. Without a hint of speculation, something that most of the other writers did, when they frivolously opened up doors, from the scandalous to the fantastical about Lazoo and her, which they weren’t able to close with logic or even imagination, J.R.A effortlessly paved the road to redemption for Genisis.

PART 3

Page reads through what feels like a manuscript, rather than a transcript of the events that unfold quickly before their eyes. The writer who goes by the familiar alias who could well be an imposter, touches a nerve, while he generates a current that not only jolts you, but then it smoothens the damage from his shocking revelations with eloquence like a soothing balm on roasted membrane.

“Have you read this?” Page feels obligated to report what he came across when checking on Genisis’ online activities.

Metofeaz ignores him as he watches over Horroh as Tone skims through the footage from Lazoo’s cameras, with Le Mac in the opposite corner facing Page with his newspaper up as a guard.

Page also feels obligated to inform Metofeaz, Horroh and Le Mac of their epic fail when it came to the footage they were now trying to manipulate.

“When’s the last time you picked up anything of any worth? I’d say around six to seven weeks ago, correct me if I’m wrong…”

Metofeaz looks down to his side in the direction of where Page sits in the corner. Page, a straight shooter had that eminent air of foreboding fate in his voice. He must’ve thought it necessary to enlighten them as a group including Horroh and Le Mac for some reason, and not give Metofeaz any prior warning of the theory or even fact that he had come upon.

“What happens when you know someone’s watching? You watch what you say and do….” Page decides to hit em hard with what Lazoo’s move to install the cameras was really about. “The cameras in their faces—seemingly random—naturally filters out the stuff we’re looking for. Plus, no firewall on a network with that amount of routing, switching and devices, running technology that includes video encoding and decoding over dedicated encrypted links? And what about the emulator sessions you used to connect to the cameras? Think about!”

Le Mac scratches his head. Horroh has a puzzled look on his face. Metofeaz massages his temples from the gibberish that continues to spew from Page’s mouth.

Whether it was Twintuition at play, or just Page himself, taking the time to go over the details, which to Metofeaz who had been entrenched in the project for years, it was all an endless flow of events by now, without a seam for him to take stock of what was happening, Page’s theory was applicable to the problem they faced. The storeroom filled with evidence Metofeaz had submitted to Ammer over the years, only for the evidence to be deemed inadmissible also must’ve taken its toll.

Signed affidavits from Bank managers of transactions, anyone of them would put Clarenta away for a minimum of five to ten. Video of African gun runners who traded their stories for green cards, whom Ammer said were too low on the ladder to make a dent, to disgruntled employees at freight companies who had damning photographs of containers loaded with arms…

“Mission accomplished.” Page offers up his final verdict.

“What the fuck are you talking about?” Metofeaz becomes agitated, which is not a good thing. Horroh pushes himself backwards on his chair to make way for an exasperated Litigatti.

“Something I said to Lazoo the other day, reminded me of what we’re here to do.” Page figures now’s as good a time to remind everyone of their place and role in the bigger scheme.

“Our job is to keep the bad guys in their place. For a while there, we were all starting to believe that we had a badge, and we were just like them. Fact is we’re just lowlifes. You babysat Clarenta for Ammer for over five years, in which time Harry’s consolidated all his interests in legitimate enterprise. Lazoo shows up and sets Clarenta up in a new GAME, so clean, that you can film it, which you will never be able to make a case for. I hate to say gentlemen, but it’s truly is game over….by the way, if you have the time you should read this.” Page flings the bound copy of the story he downloaded onto the desk. “Goes by the initials J.R.A,” Page stresses the point when he directs his statement about who the author might be at Tone Horroh.

INTERLUDE

I have my reasons for doing what I did for the first time in ’97, and then again in ’02 and for most of the past decade. Whether you believe that I learnt to write during this time, or I hid my craft so I was able to conjure an ending like this, is irrelevant.

Playing God never appealed to me, not in real life, anyways. But as a Metafiction Author you’re measured by your ability to stretch reality to a point where the reader questions whether or not it is in fact fiction they’re reading. There are countless devices which writers use for the sake of trying to create magic by contorting the truth to bend one’s perception. All of them worthless, if the writer is not able to skilfully apply the method, as God or artist. Writing myself into the story, which is one of the most commonly used devices in Metafiction was necessity and not by ego.

In the case of Lazoo, the story is delicately poised…with three days to go till Christmas in 2013 and as I pay respect to one of my most treasured characters and his story before I move on to a new life under a new pen name, I’d like to fast forward the end-to-end-saga, the story-about-the-story-being-written, my crap, etfiction, the cloaking device, what people will tell their grandchildren about, the phenomenon, call it what you like…to take in the other shining light in my crap, Polina Rada. Hopefully I am able to satisfy Ms Rada’s fans as I try to end 55Days on what can only be a sombre note but with an uplifting message, that each one of us has their destiny and a purpose to fulfil and when the time comes, you will be ready to perform to your potential.

J.R.A

CHAPTER TWENTY-THREE

“Moving Forward”

PART 1

Lazoo looks over the plans for the new offices he stands proudly in the centre of. The old bar in Chinatown, a parting gift from Clarenta, is how Lazoo likes to think of the frugal acquisition he was able to make in the nick of time, just before Metofeaz let Horroh off his leash to take care of business and close the down the case, proper, using Morbid Mayhem. The fallout from Clarenta and Tait’s bodies being discovered in a dumpster around the corner from the compound, Gene’s body in an L.A hotel, where reports say he suffered a heart attack when his neck was broken in his sleep, and Jimmy Afra being sent to prison for five years had been minimal. A slap on hand quickly followed up with a pat on the back for Metofeaz ensured that everyone could now move forward with their lives.

Lazoo still had reservations about the company name: “Lazoo, Metofeaz, Le Mac & Afamasga” abbreviated LMLA-ink. The ink in remembrance of the Poet Soldier, Jon Pierre and his method of code which was in poetry and stories, the cloaking devices which prevented WWIII, which was the Vietnam War in the end, which America still pays the price for to this day.

Lazoo didn’t quite get what he wanted. Page’s refusal to join LMLA-ink (a sub system of the Semi-System) was due to Horroh’s involvement, who still went by the Pacifican’s name, “Afamasaga,” who was also the writer Genisis had found online. It’s the reason for Lazoo’s reservation about the company name. Metofeaz on holiday in France had confirmed that J.R.A was indeed the Pacifican himself. The slick operator had smoothed things over with Ammer’s boss and kept key players who had vested interests at stake, pending the outcome of the Clarenta project, at bay. Along with Metofeaz they were the original members of the Semi-System, which Lazoo was now a member of. He used his online story with Lazoo as a mode of communicating critical plans and decisions as to whether Lazoo was to be recruited or not, the major issue being whether Clarenta should be allowed to carry on in his new life. When it came down to it, someone had to pay for Metofeaz’s time, plus the Network’s reputation was on the line. Mr Businessman, as he is known to Network operatives, the meek accountant type looking person wearing spectacles overrode Ammer and gave the Pacifican and Metofeaz the go-ahead to regain some respectability for their years of hard work on the Clarenta project. Lazoo’s work in exposing the truth behind Gene’s stunt earned him his stripes as a Network operative.

In the end, Lazoo walked away a different person from the one that came into this elaborate game in which the winners are the ones that say the least but do plenty in the name of equality from justice for the sake of peace. His motivations remain the same as when he discovered love, in meeting Genisis. He found it easy accepting responsibility that comes with the power he received from finding himself and his gift for creating diversions so the soldiers like Metofeaz can do their bit.

Lazoo already had aspirations which did not include Horroh, who Lazoo must still work with.

PART 2

“Today, I received the parcel from you, Santina, Arley, Missy and Sharon. Out of all of them, I still want you, to be my mother….”

“That’s the biggest compliment I’ve had in a while Lina. But I think Ms San Fé is going to adopt you. She used to work for the FBI and she has lovely long blonde hair and beautiful blue eyes….”

Genisis hangs up the phone from her conversation with Polina, an orphan in Russia. Life as a Network operative has its perks, not many of them more rewarding than being able to make the kind of difference, you can be proud of.

The orphanage in Russia was a rearing ground for children of operatives during the cold war. Irony was that Polina was born in the west—West Germany at least. Her surrogate mother was Arley Evon, who played Cleopatra in the recruitment of Lazoo. Polina’s biological mother was Janine Elton, Lazoo’s grandmother. Her eggs harvested and frozen during one of the Network’s projects in the 1950’s.

Genisis thinks back…she was thankful that she returned to New York on Christmas day, where she found Lazoo, who was ready to accompany Horroh to the Compound in a raid, Network style. They made it home to her parents in time for Christmas dinner and to watch the FBI raid of the Compound on T.V after the Network had finished their work.

PART 3

Page reads through the latest cloaking device from J.R.A. Polina Rada had become a priority for the crew. Maybe it was Lazoo’s influence on proceedings, or the Pacifican was that keen on writing another cloak strung together by emotion which drives the show at fever pitch and not the boring guidelines based on a nursery rhyme, or a feature article in TIME or Vanity Fair?

The recruitment of Lazoo was a masterpiece in covert operations. The proverbial mastermind had the entire industry in awe of the precision in which he manipulated friendships, passing liaisons, inklings and throwaway lines to secure the services of James Elton, who all the agencies had been chasing.

The orphanage just outside of Moscow was full of children of cold war operatives. One child in particular didn’t deserve to be there.

Page, a loose cannon in his younger days, to put it mildly, feels personally responsible for Polina being there. In this business, one needs so many props, mostly tricks which one, or a superior uses to prime an operative for the sake of getting the job done. Guilt is the least effective of all the tricks or devices which one can rely on. But in this case, it drove Page, aptly nicknamed the Pirate for his hijinks and fearless, almost callous approach to his work back then. It’s probably why he worked alone which he preferred now, but he had earned himself a reputation early on as being unpredictable and volatile.

Lazoo’s entrance into the fold, had far reaching effects, most of them positive, like what it meant to Page to have someone around that he could count on. Metofeaz was that person till Lazoo appeared. But for Page, from the start, it felt very different knowing that there was someone he shared a responsibility with, to be there for each other. It opened up endless possibilities for Page that ranged from a small venture of their own to being assigned on the same mission, just the two of them. In which Page would do the analysis and Lazoo would orchestrate one of his cunning plans for which the brothers would share the spoils.

Page who was basically reared by Metofeaz, a kid himself at the time, didn’t blame anyone for what he missed out on. That didn’t mean the effects of being left behind in an orphanage hadn’t taken its toll on Page’s life. Unlike Lazoo, regardless of his circumstance everything just seemed to fall into his lap, nothing ever seemed to go according to plan for Page. What the twins did have in common was doggedness. Lazoo’s was steely, well hidden behind his looks and charm, while Page’s aggressive in ya face perseverance was in keeping with his tendency to wear his heart on his sleeve. Countless fuck ups, which Metofeaz and the Pacifican stepped in to keep the peace with other Network operatives, agents and clients had a profound effect upon Page. For a while there it seemed like cleaning up after the Pirate had become a mission on its own for the Network. The lasting effect on Page was that there was someone there, who would never abandon him. Unlike most other operators, this Semi-System of the Network worked together and when one of them fell, all of them were held responsible for the loss of one.

Page puts the story down and to one side for now as he visualises the role he had been waiting for over ten years. Quite frankly, he had given up hope of ever playing lead again in an operation of this significance. It was significant in a personal sense for Page, it was a chance at redemption for him. The last time Page lead a cast, it ended in what he now had the opportunity to ammend. It was the ‘80s and Page had been given the role of rich kid, drifting through Europe on Summer Break, where he came across a heiress, the daughter of an important business man whom the Network were tasked with convincing the tycoon to vote a certain way in different forums he attended on behalf of German companies. Long story short the crew achieved the outcome they were looking for, but in the process…Page stole the business man’s private jet, crash landing it in the Swiss Alps, upset the Russian Mafia when he got with Sylvia Rada who turned out to be a Russian Spy. And then during one of his drugged crazed episodes, Page held a gun to Arley Lévon’s head for a new born baby he gifted to Sylvia as a wedding present.

Page checks his phone as messages from the crew, wishing him well begin to fill his inbox. The profiles of the cast members in plastic sleeves on the desk make the whole affair official.

Santina San Fé, dismissed from the FBI following a mishap involving Ammer, was snapped up by the Network and immediately assigned to the mission, suggesting that there was more than just Page’s redemption at stake. Ms San Fé was easy on the eye and according The Tourist, it was Page, who had let the world pass him by for the last decade, choosing moments here and there, rather than anything lasting any longer than a weekend’s, last chance at meeting someone he could settle down with.

Polina, now old enough to know what it felt like to not have someone she could count on, completed the picture of a family for Page.

His support crew, he couldn’t have dreamed of himself. It consisted of Lazoo as Page’s back up. Genisis, who will monitor Polina’s integration into her new life. Metofeaz, Page’s handler and remotely, the Pacifican will interface with all parties concerned and script the plot for them to follow.

Page lets himself get carried away in the alms that his new found passion for life has brought him. The knock at the door, which he’d been expecting, is Lazoo and Genisis arriving for dinner. The possibilities were truly limitless, this Christmas could be so different from the ones before. An instinctive being, but not one who could accept concepts based on faith, Page’s horizons were beginning to expand. Chimes which could only be ethereal challenge his acceptance of what’s possible. Christmas was still months away but Christmas bells chimed in tune with what was in his heart….

POLINA RADA

PART 1

“I used to rule the world / Seas would rise when I gave the word / Now in the morning I sleep alone / Sweep the streets I used to own….”

Cold Play provide palpitating penance for Polina as she looks out the window of her room. It seems that all of nature had joined hands to wish her the happiest birthday imaginable. Sunlight glistens on snow dressed branches. Green grass shines where snow had melted. The cat, caught amazingly, in sunshine, perches on the roots of the tree outside Polina’s room, waiting for something unexpected to happen, which Polina is certain that it won’t.

Down in the courtyard, cars that have arrived to take her away to another life look like chariots. Standing beside the vehicles in black suits are Page, her new dad. Then there’s Metofeaz who is now her uncle and Lazoo, Page’s brother, which means he’s also her uncle, even more dashing, in their roles as Polina’s saviours.

And now, for the moment Polina had day dreamed of since her first interview by the Network…seeing her mother to be for the first time in person…Santina San Fé, a slighter version of Genisis, steps down from one of the chariots. Ms San Fé waves to Polina, just how the orphan child imagined she would.

If Lazoo could count his blessings over the past year he would forever be smiling. But the occasion he witnesses is another gift he can be grateful for, in his own quite way. Up there in the window, a child who has the same blood running through her veins as he does, and the guy who now steps forward with a bouquet of flowers, which after winding his arm once, he let’s go for the bunch to sail through the air.

Up in the window Polina realises that the flowers coming towards her, float in a place where she has never been before. Heaven and wonderland were make-believe, Polina had accepted long ago. But for now, they could exist in this or some other dimension she has been transported to...Polina reaches for the sky on tiptoes and within a breathe the flowers find her waiting hands.

Lazoo, not one to openly show his feelings when it comes to matters of the heart, finds it difficult not share with those he feels closer to than ever.

“I used to roll the dice / Feel the fear in my enemy's eyes / Listen as the crowd would sing / "Now the old king is dead! Long live the king!"”

PART 2

Genisis had to be honest with herself, she hadn’t felt this kind of closeness in any other relationships in her life, not even with her best friend Danielle. Maybe it was the danger that drew her, Santina who looks like a princess as she steps out of the car, Arley, Sharon, Missy and their men together and knitted their trust in each other so tightly. As far as her parents were concerned Genisis was studying for her doctorate, and John was studying journalism with the aim of becoming a sports writer. The tears that swell up inside, are from seeing the look on Lazoo’s face as his brother fulfils his promise to right his wrongs when in a drug induced rage fuelled by Ammer, Page took one of a set of twins from Arley Lévon minutes after giving birth in Hamburg Germany and gave the baby to his then girlfriend Sylvia Rada a Russian spy in return for information. When it happened in the late ‘80’s Page had been under extreme pressure, working tirelessly for over five years, since the age of fourteen. He had just returned from riots in Brixton where he was sent to find the ringleaders and strike a deal with them to end the infamous bedlam on English streets. Prior to that, he befriended the daughter of a German industrialist who was influential in the reunification of Germany, ultimately bringing down the iron curtain symbolised by the collapse of the Wall of Berlin, which Page’s work in achieving one of history’s milestones was immeasurable.

Genisis can see the lines that mark the young man’s face that crease when they stretch to hide fears of the past. It happens when Page looks at his brother James, still a long lost treasure to Page. The significance of meeting him, overwhelming, within this setting as Page gets ready to become a dad to the child he took from Arley, and her step sister Missy who smiles for Page and his courage to accept the ultimate mission.

A cat that basks in the eternal rays of a merciful sun at the roots of the tree outside Lina’s window, wanders over to where Metofeaz and Lazoo flank Page who faces Lina standing at her first floor bedroom window. The stealthy creature slinks in out of Metofeaz’s legs, and then it makes its way across to Lazoo and repeats its habit in no man’s time before the cat moves on to Page.

PART 3

Page, has to find somewhere to look as the immense joy from seeing that Polina had responded in-kind to his offer to adopt her, finds Page not entirely prepared. A cat ambles over and then it circumnavigates the ground around him, and when the cat rubs up against him, it’s what all cats do to Page for some reason, it acts as a sign that the time had come.

“Here goes, nothing,” Page turns to his side so he has the window in his aim. His heart races faster than he can ever remember. But his mind remains clear, as he swings his arm in a loop and lets the bouquet go.

Metofeaz places a hand on Page’s shoulder as Page steps back to watch the flowers make their way up to Polina.

“Proud of you mate,” Metofeaz’s smile is back as the crew feels like a family again. The music, stirring the atmos, a sign that things were back on track.

“I hear Jerusalem bells are ringing / Roman Cavalry choirs are singing / Be my mirror, my sword and shield / My missionaries in a foreign field….”

“Can you hear it?” Page turns to Lazoo and then Metofeaz. The look on Lazoo’s face says he can. Metofeaz mouths the words to the song disseminated in the Poet Soldier’s narrative designed to stimulate feeling for supple hearts and open minds to heed the message, verbatim, yet hidden to the unseeing and unknowing haters.

The handsome group of men and women in their unpretentious prime, that one would never guess how serious their commitment was to matters most people dismiss as a lost cause, rejoice as another one, maybe two of them, in this case, is found.

CHAPTER TWENTY-FOUR

DAY 54

PART 1

“So were you ice cool like the snowman, yeah?” Page tilts his beer towards the snowman he, Polina and Lazoo just finished creating. Then he raises the bottle to Santina and Genisis in the kitchen window. “Or were you sweating icicles? Bet you were sweating it old sport.”

Polina looks up at Page as he ruffles her hair, as if he needed to appease her while he and uncle Lazoo shared a beer in the backyard of Polina’s New York home. Polina looks up at Lazoo for his response.

“You had just shown up out of the blue. I still hadn’t made up my mind about Feeaz. Up till then my exit strategy consisted of getting from Clariss what I thought he owed me….”

Polina never tired from being around them, Page, Lazoo, Santina, Genisis and the crew. Watching them and the way they were with each other. Listening to the stories they told, made up for the years apart. Polina spent time during school and on the weekends with Missy her twin, but every second spent with Page and Lazoo seemed to replenish what was taken from her.

“Little lady, you can listen in on this one. It’s true story, about me and Genisis.” Lazoo one of those people if you could get a word out of him, it would make your day, places his hand on Polina’s head as Page takes his away.

“I’d started counting down from the first of November….my only wish in this entire world was to be with Genisis come Christmas day. And guess what? On day 54, Christmas eve, this time last year, Genisis was at her parents place and I was here in New York after what you could say was an argument.”

“Were you mean to Genisis, uncle?”

Lazoo’s only response when someone gets him fair square in the heart is to recoil.

“You know what, Ms Rada. I think you’ll have to ask Ms Jones that yourself.”

Lazoo’s smile holds true as misty eye sympathies take hold.

He looks towards the house where he can make out Genisis’ smile in the window, which is the measure of happiness for Lazoo. On the ground, a trail of footprints in the snow end where Polina climbs the back steps and disappears through the door….

PART 2

Genisis moves out of the way as the door bursts open and in flies Polina. Genisis peers out the doorway to see whether Lazoo and Page were on their way inside.

On realising she had passed Genisis on her way in, Polina, already an aware character for her years, is back. The bashful look on her face is far too adorable for anyone to say “no” to. Not that Polina was a demanding child. But the years of training at the orphanage would take some time to fade into the background, and for her new environment to mould her own personality.

A finger beckons for Genisis’ ear, which Genisis obliges as Lazoo and Page close the door behind them, causing Polina to hesitate probably from feeling cramped in the small kitchen or was it just girls at play? Polina places her hands around Genisis’ ears when she whispers to Lazoo, “I want to know what happened on day 54.”

Genisis kneels down to be face to face with Lina as Santina appears. The natural phenomenon that occurs due to no man’s ability but forces much greater than one can conjure or gather fuse with Christmas spirit to whelm them.

“Let me put it this way Polina, Day 54 is always the hardest when you’re alone.”

PART 3

Christmas bells chime nearby, as Page follows Lazoo through the light bed of snow into the house. If someone had told him this time last year, that next year he would be sharing Christmas Eve with family, he probably would’ve slapped the person silly.

Inside the cosy kitchen Polina and Genisis discuss girl stuff. Down in the lounge Santina is busy setting the table. Page can’t seem to conceal his smile every time he sees the bump in Santina’s apron. As if by telepathy Santina stops and turns to him and runs her hand over her stomach.

Page hears what’s going on in the kitchen, as he feels Lazoo tap the neck of his beer with his. The clinking sound is real, but it’s in tune with chimes that he has to ask, “can you hear that?”

The

PENULTIMATE CAPER

PART 1

Inside the ballroom of the Chateaux…Lazoo in combat gear hovers over tables covered in weapons. He checks another magazine, to see if it has been fully loaded for the third time by hitting the butt on the table and then he holds the encasing in one hand and in the other hand another magazine, he compares the weight of. He then moves on to the weapons, manipulating each function of an AK-47 manually, before he sprays each bolt and device with CRC.

“Relax, there’s a start and end to it all you know. If you’re not careful you’ll blow you load. And when the time comes you’re the proverbial limp dick.” Page’s way of dealing with nerves was obviously different from the way Lazoo coped.

“You have more than a hard on to think about now, old sport” Lazoo smacks the lug of the firearm locking the bolt and takes aim at Page. Lazoo’s smile is fleeting as mixed emotions can only be an omen to the normally sure person.

Out on the balcony, looking out over the Valley of Vines somewhere in the South of France, Horroh, Le Mac, and Zoop, an associate sit around a table. The amicable but still tense air is because of why they are here. Not because of a payday but because of a comrade.

The Mexican cartel had Metofeaz in the hills, less than three clicks from here. And they were calling for Page in return for Metofeaz.

PART 2

Polina and Missy side by side on one couch, with blankets pulled up to their chins watch a Christmas movie. Genisis takes the popcorn Sharon who returned from France the day before passes to her. Seated opposite them, Santina breast feeds the baby and next to her is Arley.

The vigil is nothing more than the girls getting together on Christmas Eve while the boys had some work to do in France, and then they would return home in time for Christmas.

Genisis notes that over the past year, Polina had grown closer to her twin Missy. When Page suddenly announced that he had to go to France, which Polina sensed there was more to it than just a visit, Polina’s first reaction was to want to be near Missy. The arrival of her baby brother, whom Polina adored, also seemed to push Polina closer to Missy.

When the phone rang, Genisis knew from the look on Santina’s face that she had to get to the phone before Lina who was already throwing off the blankets so she could beat whoever to the pick up the call….

PART 3

Metofeaz hears the sound of choppers. It isn’t much comfort. The general Metofeaz had Horroh rough up continues to pace the cave. Four highly trained armed soldiers inside the cave, alone, and enough outside to take out a remote military base is what worries Metofeaz. Adding to his woes, when he imagines how events are unfolding outside. Ammer had responded to the General confirming that Page, Lazoo, Le Mac, Horroh and Zoop were on their way, which is the last thing Litigatti needed.

The only answer to the current predicament was to wait a while. Maybe in sixty or so days, things would have taken on a different complexion and conflict would require less abrasiveness to resolve. Especially from Metofeaz and his crew’s perspective. But he could imagine Page’s response to the news, which Ammer would’ve fed to Page in such a way that it fired up the Pirate, the hot head inside. Bringing Lazoo, Le Mac and Horroh, untrained in Guerrilla warfare would only add to their problems….

CHAPTER XMAS

PART 1

On the 55th Day of Lazoo’s ritual which he does each year inside his head now, there is much to be thankful for.

"Little Lazoo," one of the many names the toddler answers to, makes a charging run across room with his Rugby Legion football safely tucked under his arm.

“Watch this,” Lazoo looks to Metofeaz.

“Page, pass the ball the ball to your cousin.”

“Now that’s where you come unstuck Genius,” Metofeaz motions with his head for the teenager to move in closer to where Little Lazoo instead of passing the ball kicks it perfectly so it falls into the arms of Page’s fifteen year old son, Page Junior.

PART 2

Polina holds her iPad to her chest. The knock at the door, could only be Genisis checking in on her to see how she was doing. Down stairs, sounds and smells that always take her back on what Polina believes to be the hardest day of them all, float through the air, filling her bedroom, as a child.

She sneaks a peek at the tablet to see if the LATEST UPLOAD has been published. Updates say he’s still writing the ending he promised would be uplifting. Unedited snippets with bits blurred out flash in quick succession, Polina’s name onscreen still has an unnerving effect on the twenty-four year old woman.

The door opens and in steps Genisis. “He promised that this is last time, Lina. We all have our ways of dealing with what happened to Page and you for this matter. I guess this has been his way of coping.”

PART 3

Somewhere within us there is a reason and motivation that drives us to do what we do. When that reason is love and the motivation is pure, maybe you will hear the chimes of Christmas bells….

Merry Christmas

J.R.A

P.S: Mariah Carey - All I Want For Christmas Is You

©2013 John Reyer Afamasaga